What is a narcotic drug?
The term narcotics is most commonly heard on TV crime shows, and Americans generally associate the term with any drug. In actuality, narcotics are more specific. So what is a narcotic drug?
Narcotics – commonly referred to as opioids or opiates – are a class of pain-relieving drugs that come from opium, which is a drug produced by the poppy plant. Their painkilling abilities are what make this class of drugs the most dangerous in the country right now, at epidemic proportions.
There are various types of narcotic drugs: Illicit drugs such as heroin and prescription pain medications such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine and codeine. Narcotic drugs come in various forms, including tablets, syrups, capsules and intravenous injections.
These drugs can be taken responsibly and moderately, as prescribed, but tolerance, or the need to take more of the drug to achieve the same effects, naturally builds – increasing the chances a person will become physically dependent on the drug.
Often people use narcotics to suppress emotional pain beyond the physical. The euphoria that comes with narcotic use makes both prescription and nonmedical recreational abuse so common. But the dangers are real.
When opioid prescription drugs are taken without a medical need, the effects can be life-threatening, leading to overdoses and even death.
Narcotic prescriptions are bought, sold and traded on the black market, right along with heroin and cocaine. But some opioid prescription drugs are readily available in the family medicine cabinet, particularly if family members or pets have undergone surgical procedures.
Signs and Symptoms of Narcotic Abuse
- Absence of pain (analgesia)
- Itching or flushed skin
- Poor judgment
- Respiratory depression
- Risk of choking
- Slowed breathing rate
- Slurred speech
- Small pupils
Red Flags of Abuse
- Clogged blood vessels
- Collapsed veins
- Compromised immune system
- Increased pain sensitivity (hyperalgesia)