Narcotics (Opiates/Opioids)


The term narcotic comes from the green work for “stupor” and at one point in time referred to a variety of substances that dulled the sense as well as relieved pain. There are people who refer to all drugs as narcotics but today the term refers to opioids such as opium, opium derivatives and their semi-synthetic substitutes. The more current term for these drugs is opioids instead of narcotics. This leaves less uncertainty regarding the meaning of the classifications. Opioids are controlled substances that vary from Schedule I to Schedule V, depending on their medical usefulness, abuse potential, safety and drug dependence profile. Schedule I narcotics, like heroin, have no medical use in the U.S. and are illegal to distribute, purchase or use outside of medical research.

Opioids are derived from a type of flower called a poppy (papaver somniferum). The opium poppy is the source for all natural opioids such as morphine and codeine while synthetic opioids are man-made in a laboratory. Examples of synthetic opioids include meperidine, fentanyl and methadone. Semi synthetic opioids are synthesized from naturally occurring opium products and include heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone. Opioids are prescribed by doctors to individuals to treat pain, suppress cough, cure diarrhea and put people to sleep. Effects depend heavily on the dose, how it’s taken, and previous exposure to the drug.

Opioids come in many different forms including tablets, capsules, skin patches, powder, chunks in varying colors (from white to shades of brown and black), liquids (for oral use and injection), syrups, suppositories and lollipops. Individuals who abuse opioids tend to do so in one of the following ways; ingested, smoked, sniffed or injected. In addition to their medical use opioids produce a general sense of well-being by reducing an individual’s tension, anxiety and aggression. While all these effects are helpful in a therapeutic setting, they can also appeal to people who abuse opioids. On the other hand opioid use comes with a variety of unwanted effects also which include; drowsiness, inability to concentrate and apathy. Individuals can obtain narcotics from friends, family members, medicine cabinets, pharmacies, nursing homes, hospitals, hospices, doctors and the internet.

Opioid use can create both psychological and physical dependence. Long after the physical need for the drug has passed; the addict may continue to think and talk about using drugs because they feel overwhelmed by daily activities and emotions and are struggling to cope. Relapse is common if there are not changes to the physical environment or the behavioral motivators that prompted the abuse in the first place. Physical dependence is a consequence of chronic opioid use and withdrawal will take place when the individual stops using the drug. The intensity of the physical symptoms experienced during withdrawal are directly related to the particular drug used, the total daily dose, the interval between doses, the duration of use and the health and personality of the user. Withdrawal symptoms usually appear shortly before the individual would next use again.

Early withdrawal symptoms often include watery eyes, runny nose, yawning and sweating. As the withdrawal worsens, symptoms can include restlessness, irritability, loss of appetite, nausea, tremors, cravings, severe depression, vomiting, increased heart rate and blood pressure and chills alternating with flushing and excessive sweating. However, without intervention, the withdrawal will run its course, and most physical symptoms will disappear within a few days or weeks. The length and intensity of withdrawal is dependent on which drug was used, how much and for how long.

It is not uncommon to hear of individuals overdosing on opioids which can be fatal. Physical signs of opioid overdose include constricted pupils, cold clammy skin, confusion, convulsions, extreme drowsiness, and slowed breathing. Negative physical effects include slowed physical activity, constriction of the pupils, flushing of the face and neck, constipation, nausea, vomiting and slowed breathing. As the dose is increased, both the pain relief and the harmful effects become more pronounced. Some of these preparations are so potent that a single dose can be lethal to an inexperienced user.

Street names of narcotics include: Big H, Black Tar, Brown Sugar, Dover’s Powder, Hilbilly Heroin, Horse, Junk, Lean or Purple Drank, MPTP (New Heroin), Mud, OC, Ox, Oxy, Oxycotton, Paregoric, Sippin Syrup, and Smack. Drugs that have similar effects include: With the exception of pain relief and cough suppression, most central nervous system depressants (like barbiturates, benzodiazepines and alcohol) have similar effects, including slowed breathing, tolerance and dependence.

If you or someone you love has a problem with narcotics, call our professionals at Sobriety Resources (885)289-2640 today to experience the freedom of sobriety.

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