Since the beginning of time, people have been formulating and taking narcotic drugs. In fact, narcotics are one of the oldest classifications of substances known to mankind. It began with opium derived from the poppy plant, which ancient Chinese cultures used for all sorts of maladies including diarrhea and pain relief.

What are Narcotics?

Narcotics are drugs that block or reduce pain by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. Narcotics have many legitimate medical uses. They’re incredibly effective painkillers for people suffering from cancer or other severe illnesses, and they also help patients recover from post-surgical pain. The issue is, because they can bring on intense feelings of a euphoric high, narcotics are likely to cause a psychological disease: addiction. In fact, studies have shown that most cases of illicit drug intake start out with prescriptions for different types of narcotics.

One can’t deny that the United States is currently facing an epidemic of prescription drug misuse. Research indicates that the US accounts for as much as 80 percent of the world-wide consumption of narcotic medication. And that’s not because of our easy access to healthcare. The Washington Post reports opioid use in 25 countries with modern healthcare systems, and the United States outpaces them all by a significant margin.

Types of Narcotics

In general, all narcotics function in the same way; however, it’s worth noting there are different types of narcotics. We’ve listed them below. Information was obtained from

  • Natural opium derivatives – narcotic drugs that are derived from the poppy plant are classified as natural narcotics. These include morphine and codeine.
  • Partially synthetic – this classification is narcotic drugs that are derived from morphine. They include heroine, oxycodone and hydromorphone and oxymorphone.
  • Synthetic compounds – drugs in this category are formulated similarly in structure to morphine

List of Narcotics

All drugs are classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency according to a “schedule,” which ranges from I to V. Schedule I drugs have no licit medicinal uses and all have an extremely high rate of psychological addiction. Heroin is on the Schedule I list. Most of the remaining list of narcotics are classified as Schedule II drugs, which are legal for prescription use, but still have a high risk of addiction. Codeine is classified as either a Schedule III, IV or V drug, depending on the strength in milligrams of the dosage. There’s a near endless list of partially synthetic and synthetic drugs derived from morphine, but we’ve listed some the most common narcotics below.

  • Vicodin (hydrocodone)
  • Methadone
  • Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
  • Demerol (meperidine)
  • OxyContin (oxycodone)
  • Fentanyl

If you or a loved one could be struggling with substance use disorder involving narcotic drugs or other controlled substances, we invite you to contact our compassionate and well-trained team at The Recovery Village. Even if you just have questions you’d like answered, we’re here and ready to help in any way we can.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.