Words to avoid

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Words to avoid (or use with care) because they are loaded or confusing.


Alexander Shulgin: "There have been countless articles appearing in the scientific literature over the last few years capitalizing on the problems of drug abuse. During this period there has been an increasingly frequent apology for the drug-abuse victim through some ration- alization of h i s role in social terms, while at the same time imbuing the abused drug with a defective personality. Thus, one finds attacks on "abuse drugs" as if they had, inculcate within their chemical makeup, virtue or vice. The vocabulary employed in reference to these drugs confirms this role, and an outrageous example is the wide usage of the term "amphetamines."[1]

Arketamine, and esketamine

The naming convention is strange from a chemist standpoint. (R,S) are the old latin names, S being SINISTER, which adopts its current connotations from the cultural context of left-handedness being looked down upon historically. (D,L) are the more recent ones with regard to each chirality being polarizable within light. The ketamine names aren't even using (R) or (S), but opted to just put it at the front of the pronouncable word. It's like calling them Deketamine vs Elketamine.

Bad trip

Bad trip: Professor of psychiatry Rick Strassman refers to bad trips as challenging experiences.[2]


"Drugs" is a word that's been used by governments to make it impossible to think creatively about the problem of substances and abuse and availability and so forth and so on (partial transcript of Terence McKenna in Mexico 1996).[3]

Use the term substance, compound, medicine, molecule, or chemical, depending on the context.


MDMA has become widely known as ecstasy (shortened "E", "X", or "XTC"), usually referring to its tablet form, although this term may also include the presence of possible adulterants or diluents. The UK term "mandy" and the US term "molly" colloquially refer to MDMA in a crystalline powder form that is thought to be free of adulterants.[4]

Alexander Shulgin, the Godfather of Psychedelics, didn't like to be called "Dr. X", "Professor X", or the "Godfather of ecstasy", because he didn't want to be associated with adulterants.


"Halpem and Pope (2003) have reviewed the evidence on hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD), the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition category for flashbacks. First they note that the term flashback itself has been defined in so many different ways that they believe it is now virtually useless."[Hallucinogens, p135]

"There are two main types of negative experiences referred to as flashbacks: visual changes (now called HPPD) and anxiety attacks. They are sometimes combined, but often separate. Since the primary effects are disconcerting feelings and anxiety, the well-informed medical community no longer uses the term "flashbacks"."[5]


Please be specific when you are referring to inhalants, instead of generally saying that “inhalants are dangerous”:

  • The term medical inhalants is used to describe inhalants that are safe to consume in moderation when used administered properly.
  • The term toxic inhalants describes substances that have no medical use for inhalation, but can cause sudden death.


"The term usually refers to opiates or opioids, which are called narcotic analgesics. In common parlance and legal usage, it is often used imprecisely to mean illicit drugs, irrespective of their pharmacology. For example, narcotics control legislation in Canada, the US, and certain other countries includes cocaine and cannabis as well as opioids (see also conventions, international drug). Because of this variation in usage, the term is best replaced by one with a more specific meaning (e.g. opioid)"[6]

"In a legal context, a narcotic drug is simply one that is totally prohibited, or one that is used in violation of strict governmental regulation, such as cocaine and marijuana. From a pharmacological standpoint, it is a vague and ineffectual term."[7]


All parts of the mescalbeans are very poisonous, containing the alkaloid cytisine (not mescaline, as suggested by the name). The seeds or other parts of the plant have been reported to have been used as a hallucinogen by some Native American people, but this is uncertain, due to confusion over names. The symptoms of cytisine poisoning are very unpleasant, including nausea and seizures; as little as one seed can be fatal.[8]

Ipomoea tricolor

In cultivation, the species is very commonly grown mis-named as Ipomoea violacea, actually a different though related species.[9]

Syrian rue

Peganum harmala is also known as Syrian rue, an inaccurate name, since it is not in the rue (Ruta, Rutaceae) family.[10]