People have used and abused narcotics in some form for millennia, at times with tragic consequences. Fortunately, narcotic addiction treatment is available today for those in the grip of these potentially lethal substances.
Narcotics are more commonly referred to as opioids. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, “The abuse of opioids, a group of drugs that includes heroin and prescription painkillers, has a devastating impact on public health and safety in this country.” Narcotic overdose deaths have reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with over 47,000 reported in 2014 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What Is A Narcotic Drug?
Narcotic drugs can be derived from opium – hence the name “opioids.” The opium plant grows in various locations throughout the world. These drugs relieve pain. They reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. Opioids also may produce feelings of euphoria.
Our bodies naturally produce certain opioids, such as endorphins. These are known as endogenous opioids. Those produced outside the body are known as exogenous opioids and can be extremely addictive. They can be ingested orally, smoked or taken intravenously. The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies opioids as Schedule I, Schedule II or Schedule III, depending on their medical benefit and addictive properties.
Types of narcotic drugs include:
Opioid intoxication can be lethal. Death occurs from respiratory depression. Intoxication includes the following signs:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Respiratory depression
- Dry secretions
- Slurred speech
Withdrawal symptoms of narcotics
Withdrawal symptoms from different types of narcotic drugs, although not life-threatening, are physically excruciating and the main reason these drugs can be so addicting. The symptoms include:
- Dilated pupils
- Gastrointestinal pain
- Intense muscle pain
- Excessive sweating
Narcotic withdrawal treatment focuses on alleviating these painful symptoms in order to break the addiction cycle. During treatment, medications are used to ease the pain.
Suboxone is one of the most commonly used of these medications. It comes in tablet form and is also produced as a film which dissolves when placed under the tongue. Suboxone can help in suppressing opioid withdrawal symptoms, decrease illicit opioid cravings and use, and under the correct supervision can help with overcoming an opioid dependence
Methadone relieves withdrawal symptoms and helps with detox. It is also used as a long-term maintenance medicine for opioid dependence. Methadone is available as a tablet, liquid, or an injection
Naloxone is given to individuals who are in an acute state of opioid overdose. It has a very short duration of action and causes symptoms of opioid withdrawal almost immediately after administration. It administered by injection and is also available as a nasal spray.
Naltrexone can help prevent relapse. It is available in pill form or as an injection.