It is important to have a deep understanding of commonly abused substances. Understanding the pharmacology and physical effects of these substances is crucial for making informed decisions regarding patient care. In addition, knowledge of these substances can aid in identifying potential drug abuse or addiction problems in patients and is essential for effective point of care toxicology testing and successful patient care.

A - Z

Alcohol (ALC/ETG)

Alcohol is one of the most used and abused, yet widely accepted drug of abuse, being one of the oldest consumed substances around the world.

Amphetamine (AMP)

Amphetamines are stimulants that speed up the body's system. Many are legally prescribed and used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Barbiturate (BAR)

Barbiturates are depressants that produce a wide spectrum of central nervous system depression from mild sedation to coma. 

Bath Salts (MDVP)

Synthetic stimulants that are marketed as “bath salts” are synthetic derivatives of cathinone, a central nervous system stimulant, which is an active chemical found naturally in the khat plant.

Benzodiazepine (BZO)

Benzodiazepines are  prescription only central nervous system depressants used to treat anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms, and seizures. They can cause sedation and hypnosis.

Buprenorphine (BUP)

Buprenorphine, combined with naloxone, is in a drug class of opioid partial-agonist antagonist, meaning it has less efficacy by the way it binds to the opioid receptors in the brain. 

Cocaine (COC)

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that derives from coca leaves native to South America. The common form of cocaine is produced through a series of chemical processes and is illegally distributed through out the world.

Fentanyl (FEN/FYL)

Fentanyl is an extremely powerful Opioid pain medication that is approximately 50 times more potent than Morphine. It is a fully synthetic Opioid and a leading danger in the opioid epidemic.

Gabapentin (GAB)

Gabapentin, better know by the brand name Neurontin, is an anti-convulsant prescription medication used to treat a variety of symptoms including seizures, nerve pain, and restless leg syndrome.


Gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) is a central nervous system depressant, also widely known as the  “date-rape” drug. Under approval of strict DEA and FDA protocol may be prescribed medically.

Heroin (6-MAM)

Heroin is an opioid processed from the naturally occurring opiate morphine. Like all opioids, Heroin, is highly addictive both psychologically and psychically due to the fast acting euphoric effects. 

Ketamine (KET)

Ketamine is a short-acting anesthetic with rapid onset effects that is used in both humans and animals. Ketamine, is considered to be a “dissociative” anesthetic anesthetic because of the feeling of being detached from reality.

Kratom (KRA)

Kratom is a tropical tree within the coffee family, native to South East Asia, and has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for a variety of different ailments that can produce effects similar to opioids.


LSD is a potent hallucinogenic that was first sythesized by Albert Halman in 1938 in Switzerland. The drug became popular in the United States during the 1960’s and has been used recreationally since.

Methamphetamine (mAMP)

Methamphetamine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It is chemically similar to amphetamine, a drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

Methadone (MTD/EDDP)

Methadone is a synthetic opioid which is commonly prescribed to patients suffering from opioid withdrawal. After consumption of Methadone the body will metabolize a compound known as EDDP.

Morphine (MOP)

Morphine is a naturally occurring opiate that is prescribed medically to treat acute and chronic severe pain as well as labor pains during child birth. It, like other opioids, has a high potential for abuse and dependency.

Nicotine - Cotinine (NIC/COT)

Nicotine is a stimulant commonly found in tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, and electronic cigarettes. Nicotine is highly addictive causing dependency in users.

Opiate (OPI)

Opiates are naturally derived from the active ingredients in the opium poppy plant. They fall under the category of opioids. Like other opioids, opiates have a high potential for abuse and dependency.

Oxycodone (OXY)

Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid narcotic analgesic used to treat moderate to severe pain. It has a high potential for abuse due to its’ euphoric pain relieving effects and high risk of addiction and dependency.

Phencyclidine (PCP)

Phencyclidine (PCP) is a mind-altering drug that may lead to hallucinations (a profound distortion in a person’s perception of reality). It is considered a dissociative drug, leading to a distortion of sights, colors, sounds, self, and one's environment.

Propoxyphene (PPX)

Propoxyphene is an opioid pain reliever used to treat mild to moderate pain. The FDA voted against the continued marketing of PPX products, based on weak pain-killing abilities, addictiveness, association with drug deaths and heart problems.

Rohyphnol (BZO)

Rohypnol is a powerful benzodiazepine and acts as a central nervous system depressant. It has become widely known as the “date rape” because it has been used to sedate potential victims.

Synthetic Marijuana (K2P/K3)

A synthetic version of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, "K2/Spice" is a mixture of plant material sprayed with dangerous synthetic psychoactive chemicals.

THC (Marijuana)

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana. It is responsible for the "high" that people experience when they use marijuana. 

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCA)

Tricyclic antidepressants, or TCAs, were introduced in the late 1950s. One of the first antidepressants prescribed and still being used today though, dangerous side effects have deterred their use.

Xylazine (XYL)

Xylazine is a veterinary medication that is used as a sedative, muscle relaxant, and pain reliever in animals. It is not approved for use in humans, but it has been used illicitly as a recreational drug.

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