A Comprehensive Look at Narcotic Drugs
A number of legal and illegal drugs fall under the category “narcotics,” from the Greek word meaning “to make numb.” Narcotics are better known as opioids and are commonly used as painkillers because they dull the senses. They also create powerful sensations of pleasure, so the substances are highly addictive. Treatment for narcotic addiction requires a comprehensive combination of medication, counseling, and behavioral therapy.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are naturally derived from the opium poppy and also are created synthetically. They encompass a wide variety of drugs that are often used legally as painkillers because they suppress the brain’s perception of pain. The effects of opioids, including this numbing process, can lead the user to become addicted to opioid drugs because they create profound feelings of pleasure.
Frequently Abused Opioid Drugs
The most abused opioid drugs include:
Opium is derived from the poppy plant and smoked, taken in pill form or liquified, injected, or taken orally. It is the basis for many legal prescription narcotics, including morphine, codeine, and oxycodone, as well as illegal heroin.
As prescription opioids get more expensive and harder to obtain, more opioid addicts are turning to heroin. It produces a highly pleasurable sensation but can slow the respiratory system, heart rate, and blood pressure to a dangerous and even life-threatening rate.
This group includes the brand-name opioid drugs OxyContin, Roxicodone, and Percocet. They are the most commonly abused opioids, as they can easily become addictive if not administered under proper medical supervision.
Hydrocodone is the generic form of brand-name opioid drugs, including Norco, Lortab, and Vicodin. It’s sometimes prescribed as a cough suppressant.
Morphine is a commonly used painkiller taken directly from the poppy plant. It’s used for both acute and chronic pain management and to provide sedation before surgery.
Highly potent and therefore highly addictive, hydromorphone has become one of the opioids often obtained through forged prescriptions and theft from hospitals and nursing homes.
Fentanyl is prescribed to treat chronic and severe pain and is also manufactured illicitly to “cut” heroin for a cheaper alternative. The intense rush it delivers makes it highly addictive.
A relatively mild analgesic and less potent for pain than morphine, codeine is prescribed as both a cough suppressant and a painkiller. Abusers often take more than is prescribed or mix it with other intoxicating substances.
Methadone is sometimes used as a painkiller, but it is better known as replacement therapy to reduce opioid dependence. It stays in the user’s for almost a full day, so it can be prescribed at much lower doses and still control its opioid cravings.
Better known by the brand name Demerol, meperidine can lead to profound addiction even under medical supervision. Effective treatments include gradual tapering off of the dosage in a medical detox setting to avoid severe withdrawal effects.
Nearly twice as strong as OxyContin, Oxymorphone is usually prescribed when other treatments have failed or when the user has a high tolerance for other opioids. It is extremely addictive.
Tramadol is most often abused by opioid-dependent people already, by healthcare providers, and by chronic pain sufferers. It is less addictive than other opioid narcotic drugs, but it may lead to physical dependence and addiction.
Believe it or not, carfentanil was not created for humans but as a general anesthetic for large animals — leading to the nickname “elephant tranquilizer.” In 2016, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a warning that carfentanil is about 100 times more potent than fentanyl and as much as 10,000 times more potent than morphine. One DEA official said it was “crazy dangerous.”
Buprenorphine is a painkiller often used as a treatment medication to wean users off opioid dependence gradually. But has also been abused by opioid-dependent people, so it is now used in combination with naloxone.
Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Detox from opioid addiction is the start of a long road to recovery and sobriety. Professional treatment remains most effective as a long-term, comprehensive plan combining behavioral therapies, counseling services, medications, detox services, and supportive care. But as hard as unrelenting as your addiction feels, it can be successfully treated, and you can move on to sobriety.
Options for heroin treatment include medically supervised detox combined with intensive therapy. Withdrawal is gradual and supervised in case complications arise. This process may consist of drugs such as Suboxone, a medication that resembles heroin but is much milder.
For help with opioid addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, contact Muse Treatment Center at 800-426-1818 today.