The term narcotic is from the Greek word “stupor” referring to the many substances developed for pain relief and to dull the senses.

Narcotics refer to any psychoactive compound with the ability to induce sleep. In this country, the word narcotic has become associated with opiates, commonly morphine and heroin. Today, the term is imprecisely defined and typically has negative connotations. Usually when used in legal terms, a narcotic drug is simply one that is totally prohibited or one that is used in violation of strict governmental regulation and can include all illegal recreational drugs. Heroin and other opioid drugs are considered a powerful opioid and narcotic. Narcotics are similar in effect to properties to opium but not derived from opium. The term narcotics may also encompass any opium-containing substance that is produced naturally in the brain.

The term “narcotic” is often used by medical professionals and law enforcement referring to all illegal drugs or those that are possessed illegally.

Narcotics are used to treat pain, alleviate cough and diarrhea and to induce sleep or drowsiness. They are administered in a number of ways ranging from pills, skin patch, nasally, suppository or injection. Individuals who abuse narcotics often smoke, sniff, or inject the drug. Narcotics reduce tension and anxiety which helps the patient to relax and become more subdued; however, these effects can also lead the user into abusing the narcotic.

Signs of Narcotic Addiction

Narcotic addiction causes many physical and emotional signs and symptoms. Physical symptoms include: restlessness, increased energy and bodily changes such as weight loss, anxiety, nosebleeds and hormonal imbalances. Emotional and mental signs of narcotic addiction may include: paranoia, temporary psychosis, depression, anger, slow speech pattern and disorientation, lack of motivation, instability and withdrawn reclusive behavior.

Physical Changes

There are a variety of physical changes that a person addicted to narcotics may exhibit. Many narcotic addicts show signs of impaired or slowed mental function. Unusually slow speech patterns, disorientation and confusion are common signs of drug addiction. Often, these symptoms come and go, sometimes followed by moments of intense hyperactivity.

Weight loss and muscle wasting is a common side effect of opiates due to hormonal changes. Weight gain and poor dental health is associated more with Methadone addiction. Chronic nosebleeds and sinusitis are seen in drug users that snort a large amount of drugs on a regular basis. Addiction to drugs that are smoked may lead to coughing up blood and regular bouts with bronchitis. Intravenous users may develop abscesses in fat and muscle tissue if poor veins have caused the user to resort to that route of administration. Veins sometimes become inflamed and infected with abscesses at the injection site. Periods of excessive sleep with periods of increased energy are warning signs of possible narcotic addiction. Increased blood pressure and metabolism are also side effects but are much more difficult to see.

Emotional Signs of Addiction

Narcotic addiction often changes the typical mood and mental function of a person. Increased irritability and anger as well as the desire to argue and fight are regularly seen symptoms. Some addicts become apathetic, depressed, lethargic or unusually calm. Others show signs of paranoia, temporary psychosis and delusional behavior. When drugs begin to take hold of a person’s life, the person often loses sight of what is important to them — everything except the drugs. The cessation of hobbies and regular activities and disinterest in common things including family members and social activities are at times a sign of serious narcotic addiction.

Denial and Rationalization

Narcotic addicts tend to underestimate the effects drugs are having on them, as well as the amount of money spent on drugs and the actual quantity of drugs they take. This is also a sign of addiction. Often, people addicted to narcotics truly believe that they are not addicted and try and convince others of this if accused. Sometimes this is due to fear — fear that the drugs they know they are addicted to will be taken away from them or fear of being forced into treatment that will cause suffering of withdrawal.

Natural Narcotics

Natural narcotics (nonsynthetic) are derived from the poppy plant papaver somniferum. Cultivated in the Mediterranean from 5,000 B.C., the poppy plant is grown in many countries around the world. In past times, opium was made from the milky fluid that drips from the opening of the unripe seedpods of poppy plants which was then hand-scraped and air-dried. More modern cultivation is done by “harvesting” which is the poppy straw process of extracting organic compounds from the dried poppy plant. The DEA states that 500 tons of opium is legally shipped into the United States yearly for medical use. Natural opiate narcotics are Codeine and Morphine.

Synthetic and Semi Synthetic Narcotics

Synthetic narcotics are produced inside a laboratory. Labs produce narcotics that are capable of providing the analgesic effects of morphine which some falsely believe lower the risk of abuse and addiction. However, synthetic drugs remain potentially abusive and addictive. Examples of synthetic narcotics include: pain relievers such as Ultram/Tramadol, Nucynta, Demerol, Methadone, Talwin, Fentanyl, etc. Examples of semi synthetic opiate narcotics are: Hydrocodone, Oxycodone/Oxycontin, Percocet, Heroin, Dilaudid, Opana, Suboxone®/Subutex, Buprenorhines, Nubain, Stadol, etc.

Side Effects

The use of narcotics is often associated with a number of side effects including sleepiness, lack of concentration, lack of emotion, reduced energy, pupil constriction, dilation of blood vessels resulting in flushed face and neck, nausea, vomiting, constipation and most importantly, central nervous system and respiratory depression. While the concentration and purity of natural narcotics are generally known, the street drugs produced in secret labs may have unknown ingredients which can cause fatal overdoses.

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