Narcotic analgesics are medications that are used to provide relief from chronic pain. Narcotics are also known by other names such as opiates and opioid analgesics. Analgesic is another word for a pain reliever. Narcotics are one of the most common drugs used to relieve pain, but they are also overused, overprescribed and misused. For this reason, more than two million Americans have some sort of substance use disorder related to their use of narcotics.
Narcotics are effective because of their ability to bind to the opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for how you experience pain, pleasure and addictive behaviors. Although they are most abundant in the brain and spinal cord, opioid receptors are found all throughout the body, including in the stomach and lungs.
Narcotics are used to treat a variety of types of pain. They are often prescribed to patients after they undergo surgery to alleviate short-term intense pain. They can also be used to treat pain related to cancer. Some of the examples of narcotics commonly used for pain are codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, hydromorphone, morphine and fentanyl.
Some common side effects of using narcotics are constipation, difficulty breathing, skin rashes, loss of appetite, low blood pressure, miosis, nausea, vomiting, trouble urinating, tremors and a slow heartbeat.
If you stop taking narcotics, your body will begin to go through the withdrawal process. Talk to your doctor about gradually tapering off of your narcotic dosage in order to avoid enhanced withdrawal symptoms. Do not stop taking narcotics “cold turkey,” as the side effects of narcotic withdrawal may have dangerous implications.
There are different narcotics withdrawal symptoms which usually correlate with how long you have stopped taking the medications. Early narcotics withdrawal symptoms, which usually occur within 6 to 12 hours after stopping narcotic treatment, include tearing up, muscle aches, agitation, trouble falling or staying asleep, excessive yawning, anxiety, nose running, swears, racing heart, hypertension and fever. Late narcotic withdrawal symptoms, which show up after about 72 hours of stopping narcotic treatment, are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, goosebumps, stomach cramps, depression and drug cravings.
Everyone experiences narcotics withdrawal differently, and narcotic withdrawal symptoms may last longer for some patients than for others. Typically, withdrawal symptoms will begin to appear 6 hours after stopping your withdrawal treatment and may last up to a week. Certain psychological narcotic withdrawal symptoms, such as drug cravings, may persist even after a week.
If you are having trouble managing your narcotic withdrawal symptoms, it may be necessary to seek a medically assisted detoxification program. This allows patients to safely get the narcotics out of their system and begin to learn strategies to cope with any lingering narcotic cravings they may be experiencing. It is important to seek a medically assisted detoxification program if you are experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, as the psychological narcotic withdrawal symptoms like narcotic cravings can be dangerous or lead patients to risky situations.
It is important to keep an updated list of your current medications to share with your doctor. Include any herbal products or nonprescription medications as well, as these may interact with the narcotics you are prescribed. Narcotics should not be taken with certain drugs, such as MAO inhibitors, as the interactions between the two types of medications can be severe or even fatal. Specifically, one should avoid taking Phenelzine, selegiline, tranylcypromine, procarbazine, rasagiline, and isocarboxazid while undergoing narcotic treatment.
Finding the right narcotics center is an important step in your recovery journey. Talk to your doctor about the duration you have been taking narcotics and the dosages of narcotics you have been prescribed, as these can affect how your body responds to withdrawal symptoms. Your body’s response to withdrawal is an important factor in finding a narcotic center that will fit your needs.
If you or someone you love is struggling with narcotics addiction or another substance use disorder, get help immediately. You can go online and visit www.TheRecoveryVillage.com or call our toll-free hotline, which is open 24 hours a day at 855-548-9825, to learn more about the resources The Recovery Village has to offer. Although the journey to recovery is not easy for all patients, being aware of your resources can help ensure a life-long recovery. The Recovery Village is here every step of the way to help you live a happier, healthier life.
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.