Narcotic analgesics are drugs that relieve pain, can produce numbness and induce a state of unconsciousness. They refer to opium, opium derivatives, and synthetic substitutes.

Natural narcotics include:

  • opium (paregoric, parepectolin)
  • morphine (MS-Contin, Roxanol)
  • codeine (Tylenol with codeine, Empirin with codeine, Robitussin AC)
  • thebaine

Semisynthetic narcotics include:

  • heroin (horse, smack)
  • hydromorphone (Dilaudid)

Synthetic narcotics include:

  • meperidine
  • Pethidine (Demerol, Mepergan)
  • methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)


Narcotics work by binding to opioid receptors, which are present in the central and peripheral nervous system, reducing neuronal excitability in the pain carrying pathway.  Narcotic analgesics are used to relieve acute and chronic, severe pain. Some Narcotics are more potent than others. All carry the potential to develop a tolerance and dependency.

Medical Narcotic Use:

  • Anesthesia
  • Anesthetic Adjunct
  • Anxiety
  • Back Pain
  • Breakthrough Pain
  • Chronic Pain
  • Cough
  • Depression
  • Dercum’s Disease
  • Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
  • Diarrhea
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Labor Pain
  • Light Sedation
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Opiate Dependence
  • Opiate Withdrawal
  • Pain
  • Postoperative Pain
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Sedation
  • Syringomyelia
  • Vulvodynia

Narcotics are often misused and abuse, even those designed for medical purposes. Often Narcotic medications are used in large doses to achieve euphoric effects. With prolonged narcotic abuse, the body develops a tolerance, requiring larger doses of the drugs to achieve the desired effects. The body can easily become dependent on the drug, when abruptly stopping its use the individual will experience uncomfortable, even painful symptoms of withdrawal.

Signs and Symptoms:

Narcotics users can develop tolerance,  psychological and physical dependence to the drug when used over an extended period of time. Common signs and symptoms of Narcotic abuse include:

  • analgesia
  • sedation
  • euphoria
  • respiratory depression
  • small pupils, bloodshot eyes
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • itching skin
  • flushed skin
  • constipation
  • slurred speech
  • confusion
  • poor judgment
  • needle marks on the skin

When dependent on Narcotics and abruptly stopping its use, the individual will begin to experience a wide array of withdrawal symptoms, which may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Craving for the drug
  • Increased respiratory rate (rapid breathing)
  • Yawning
  • Runny nose
  • Salivation
  • Gooseflesh
  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Tremors
  • Lack of appetite


Treatment for a narcotic addiction requires patients to enter into an inpatient treatment program. This takes them away from the temptations they face in their day to day lives and put them into an environment that is conducive to their sobriety. Each treatment program will be different, often being tailored to the individuals treatment needs. Common treatment services include but are not limited to:

  • Medical Detox
  • Individual Counseling
  • Group Counseling
  • Behavioral Modification Therapy
  • Family Counseling
  • Educational Lectures