The world of alcohol and drug abuse, combined with co-occurring disorders like depression or anxiety, seems to have a language all its own, and it can become hard to navigate what the heck professionals might be talking about. What’s more, teens might be talking and texting with words that could include street terms we have never heard of.

And now that prescription medicines are the most commonly abused drugs among 12 to 13 year olds, (NSDUH, 2012), understanding generic and street names of those medicines is particularly important for any parent who needs to assess exactly what is going on inside and outside of home. Today, detection of abuse is difficult, because it’s easy to conceal a little pill. It’s even easy to conceal smoking pot, with ingestibles and home- made vaporizers made from plastic water bottles.

Here is a good glossary from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. It is updated regularly to include slang or street names that teens and young adults might be using.

This glossary is a good start for understanding what professionals might be referencing, particularly with treatment acronyms:


This glossary is more comprehensive than we’d need in an emergency situation, but it could be very helpful for individuals that might need to be more educated before they help with an intervention.

When in doubt or in crisis, go to Google. Google search is a powerful tool for people in crisis who need answers, who need knowledge. The more specific you can be with search words, the better, faster your search results will be to help you understand the meaning of a word, a phrase or even a behavior that you want to know more about. And let’s remember that 50% of a problem can be solved by just identifying what the problem is.