Addiction: a brain disease that is characterized by compulsive substance or behavior seeking and use despite harmful consequences

Adrenal Glands: produce hormones that help regulate your metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, response to stress and other essential functions.

Aerosol: a substance enclosed under pressure and able to be released as a fine spray, typically by means of a propellant gas.

Amphetamine: central nervous system stimulant drugs prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy, hyperactivity (e.g. ADHD) and asthma

Amygdala: a roughly almond-shaped mass of grey matter inside each cerebral hemisphere, involved with the experiencing of emotions

Cannabinoids: chemicals that bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which are found naturally in the brain and are also found in marijuana and are involved in a variety of mental and physical processes

Central nervous system: the brain and spinal cord, which control all the body’s functions by sending and receiving messages through nerves

Dependence: a physical state in which the person only functions normally when using the substance

Dopamine: a brain chemical, or neurotransmitter, found in the brain that regulates movement, emotion, motivation and pleasure

Dysphoria: a profound state of unease or dissatisfaction, which may accompany depression, anxiety or agitation

Equilibrium: state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces

Euphoria: a state of intense happiness and self-confidence

“Fight-or-flight” response: our instinctual reactions to stress, which evolved as a survival mechanism, enabling people and other mammals to react quickly to life-threatening situations

Hallucinations: perceptions of something (such as an image or a sound) that does not exist in the real world

Harm Reduction: refers to policies, programs and practices that aim to minimize negative health, social and legal impacts associated with drug use, drug policies and drug laws.

Inhibition: an inner restraint or holding back to free activity, expression, or functioning

Misuse: use of a substance for a purpose not consistent with legal or medical guidelines

Myelin: fatty material that surrounds and insulates most neurons to maximize the transmission of information

Neurons: nerve cells found in the brain and throughout the body that specialize in the transmission and processing of information

Neurotransmitter: a chemical produced by neurons to carry messages to adjacent neurons, which are found in the brain and throughout the body to send and process information

Norepinephrine: a stress hormone and a neurotransmitter that affects parts of the brain where attention and responses are controlled; part of the fight-or-flight response

Psychoactive: having a specific effect on the brain

Psychosis: a state of mind where a person’s thoughts and perceptions are disturbed making it hard for them to understand what is real and what is not

Receptor: a large molecule located on the surface of a cell that recognizes specific chemicals, such as neurotransmitters and hormones, and transmits the chemical message into the cell

Relapse: the return of a disease weeks or months after its apparent end or improvement

Reward system: a brain circuit that, when activated by dopamine-containing neurons, fortifies behaviors

Serotonin: a neurotransmitter that regulates many functions, including mood, appetite, and sensory perception

Synapse: a small gap separating neurons, which requires an electrical impulse to carry information from one neuron to another neuron

Synthetic: compounds formed through a chemical process by humans, as opposed to those of natural origin

THC: stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol and is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis

Tolerance: a condition in which higher doses of a substance are required to produce the same effect achieved during initial use

Withdrawal: symptoms that occur after a person abruptly reduces or stops long-term use of a drug, which can vary in length and intensity depending the type of drug; often flu-like symptoms, such as muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting and cold flashes, but also restlessness, depression or dysphoria

For more reading on terminology associated with addiction check out the Addictionary.