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NarcoticThere are several different types of narcotics. The word narcotic, which comes from the Greek word for numbness, typically refers to any medication or substance derived specifically from the opium or poppy plant and has been used to provide pain relief for centuries. These substances are also known as opiates or opioids because of their analgesic (pain relieving) effect produced by binding to the opiate receptors in the brain.

Narcotic Is A Term For Variety

It should be noted there is a subtle difference between the two terms. Opiates are derived from the plant only and opioids are partially synthetic. Included in the opiate class are morphine and codeine. Opioids include heroin as well as prescription oxycodone and hydrocodone. Heroin is a derivative of morphine while oxycodone and hydrocodone are direct derivatives of codeine. They are also the most widely prescribed and abused pain medications. Abuse of these drugs has a considerable risk of withdrawal symptoms and the possibility of severe side effects with prolonged use.

The medical definition of narcotic is more specific than its legal usage. Legally, the term narcotic is used to describe any substance strictly controlled or prohibited by the US government. This includes cannabis (marijuana), cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates, opiates and opioids, benzodiazepines, and all illegal substances such as MDMA (ecstasy), Lysergic Acid (LSD), and Peyote.

Narcotic Abuse

Narcotic abuse is a growing problem in the United States. Narcotics are both widely prescribed and widely abused here in the United States.  Most people that seek medical treatment are doing so because of some form of pain.  Many physicians prescribe a number of drugs for pain and since narcotics are the most effective, they are prescribed often for their pain-relieving and calming effects.

While many do take narcotics simply to ease their pain, narcotic abuse or narcotic addiction is when a user will begin to have strong urges to use narcotics.

Narcotic abuse can start as a person builds tolerance for the drug and rather than contacting their physician, they will take more than the dose prescribed to increase the effects of the drug.  Some may even begin combining the narcotics with alcohol or other drugs to help maximize the euphoric effects of the drug.  Methods of narcotic abuse may vary and some may even begin snorting, smoke, or inject the drugs to get the rush from the drug.

Narcotics can come in many forms.  Some narcotics such as Morphine and Codeine are derivatives of the Opium Poppy, which also makes them fall into the category of Opiates.  Heroin and Methadone are considered to be semi-synthetic drugs.  Heroin is still the most popular and most widely abused narcotic while many of the prescription pills are following close behind. Narcotic abuse can be just as dangerous and destructive as other addictions and dependencies.


Narcotic withdrawal is a major sign that there is an addiction present as the body has become dependent on the drug’s presence to perform various functions.  For those that are suffering from addiction, seeking treatment in a licensed facility is the safest and most assured way of overcoming the addiction and regaining control of their life.

Narcotic Withdrawal Symptoms

Narcotic withdrawal produces many signs and symptoms that are completely opposite of the drug’s anticipated medical effects.  Withdrawal begins to occur when a person that is addicted tries to lessen or stop their use of the drug.  The severity of withdrawal will depend on the individual addiction and its severity.  The longer and more severe the addiction, the longer and more severe the withdrawals will be.

While narcotics generally provide a euphoric and relaxing effect, their withdrawal is completely opposite often resulting in episodes of anxiety, irritability, rapid breathing, tremors, and muscle aches.  Some symptoms of withdrawal may even mimic a cold or flu such as a runny nose, cold chills, abdominal cramping, lack of appetite, nausea or vomiting, yawning, confusion, and diarrhea.  Everyone’s experience with narcotic withdrawal may vary depending on the type and severity of the addiction.

Acute withdrawal for adults is not considered to be life-threatening unless there is  a medical condition that may put the person at risk for more dangerous problems during detox, but it still should not be done without the supervision of licensed professionals.  Narcotic withdrawal is extremely uncomfortable and can begin anywhere from 12 to 36 hours after the last dose was taken depending on the particular drug.

Addiction Treatment Help

The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA) created a scheduling system for narcotic substances based on this potential. Scheduled narcotics are rated based on accepted medicinal value and both physical and psychological dependence. Schedule I narcotics have no medicinal value and high probability of abuse while Schedules II-V all have some medical value and the likelihood for abuse goes down with each tier, Schedule V having the least potential for abuse. All types of narcotics, despite schedule tier, are addictive and should only be taken as directed.

For narcotic treatment options, or to find addiction help, contact one of our counselors at Stop Your Addiction toll-free today.

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