Narcotics Addiction & Abuse
Opioids are available as either immediate release or extended release medications. An immediate release opioid starts working to relieve pain right away. Extended-release opioids are intended for around-the-clock pain management. Some of the side effects of opioids can include drowsiness, concentration problems, addiction and dependence. Narcotics are central nervous system depressants which potentially result in slowed coordination and activity, constipation, slow breathing, nausea and vomiting. Narcotics are classified as controlled substances in the United States. Most narcotic medications are categorized as Schedule II drugs -meaning that they have medical uses but are also habit-forming and have a high potential for abuse. Narcotics can also fall outside this classification system if they are illegal. Heroin, for example, is an illicit street drug which is a narcotic and has no medical uses in the United States.
The body quickly builds a tolerance to narcotics, requiring higher doses of a substance to feel the desired effects. A narcotic tolerance leads to dependence. When someone is physically dependent upon narcotics, they will go through withdrawal when they stop using them. Opioid dependence complicates the issue of addiction even more and makes it much more difficult to stop using these drugs. In response to the addictive nature of opioids, many doctors have started limiting the number of prescriptions and are trying to recommend alternatives for pain management.
When someone’s doctor is considering prescribing narcotics to them, the patient should go over their medical history. Anyone with a personal or family history of substance abuse might not be a good candidate for opioids. Narcotics are not only dangerous due to their addictive nature, they can also cause a fatal overdose. Narcotics slow the central nervous system -affecting breathing and the heart rate. If someone takes a large dose of narcotics or mixes them with another CNS depressant, such as benzodiazepines, their breathing may slow to a dangerous level. The best way to minimize the risks of narcotic addiction, dependence and overdose is only to use these drugs as prescribed. If someone abuses narcotics, they are at an even higher risk of becoming addicted.
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