Narcotic abuse is very common. In 2014, the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that 435,000 individuals used heroin and 4.3 million people illegally used narcotic pain relievers.
Narcotic addiction is also very common. In fact, narcotic addiction has even reached epidemic proportions, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
What is a narcotic drug?
What is a narcotic drug exactly? Narcotics, also known as opioids or opiates, are powerful painkillers that are sometimes prescribed by doctors after surgery or for painful medical conditions. Unfortunately, narcotics are also highly addictive, making them dangerous to take long term. Narcotics also cause people to experience tolerance, or a condition in which larger and larger dosages are needed to achieve the same effect.
In addition to reducing pain, narcotics also cause:
- Slowed breathing
Types of narcotic drugs include:
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Oxycodone (Percocet or Oxycontin)
Most types of narcotic drugs are used in medical settings, although heroin has no medical application.
Narcotics work by interacting with the body’s opioid receptors, cellular proteins that reduce the sensation of pain. Endorphins, or chemicals released during intense exercise, are also known as endogenous opioids, because they act on these receptors as well.
Narcotic overdose symptoms
Narcotics are powerful drugs that can result in an overdose.
Signs and symptoms of a narcotic overdose include:
- Shallow or erratic breathing
- Unable to speak
- Lack of response to stimuli
- Pale or bluish skin
- Slow or erratic heartbeat
- Blue or black lips and fingernails
Narcotic overdoses are very serious and can often be deadly. People who have quit narcotics and then relapsed are at greatest risk of overdose, because their body is no longer equipped to handle their previous dosage. Even experienced users can suffer from an overdose. If you or your loved one is experiencing an overdose, it is essential to call 911 immediately.
I’m addicted to narcotics – What should I do?
If you are struggling with an addiction to narcotics (also known as an addiction to opioids or opiates), you are not alone. People who are addicted to narcotics can benefit from a narcotic treatment program.
The first step of narcotic addiction treatment is to stop using the drugs. Because long-term narcotic use fundamentally alters the structure of the brain, individuals who quit narcotics “cold turkey” often experience painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Narcotic withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
Although narcotic withdrawal symptoms are not dangerous, they can be so severe that quitting narcotics feels impossible. Narcotic withdrawal treatment can help reduce or eliminate the symptoms associated with narcotic withdrawal. For this reason, medically supervised detox can be a valuable first step on the road to sobriety.
After detox, people who are addicted to narcotics typically receive medication management and/or addiction therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, talk therapy and stress management therapy from narcotic rehab centers. Medication management involves being prescribed less-addictive, safer opioids in an attempt to reduce cravings, whereas therapy involves learning behavioral ways of coping with the addiction.
Remember: Narcotic addiction in treatable. A team of professionals can guide you to sobriety and to living your best life.
For more information about narcotics and Sovereign’s narcotics rehabilitation center and drug addiction treatment program, please contact our 24/7 helpline.