What are Narcotic Drugs?

Narcotic Drugs | Recovery by the Sea

Narcotic drugs, also known as narcotic analgesics, opioids, or painkillers are used primarily for the treatment of moderate-severe acute (short-term) pain, such as that experienced following an injury or surgery. They are also sometimes used to relieve chronic pain, such as in the case of cancer or palliative care, and can also treat diarrhea and coughing.

Some narcotic drugs such as oxycodone and codeine are legal if they are obtained through a prescription. However, these drugs are commonly diverted for their pain-relieving, feel-good effects. They are also found in completely illicit versions on the black market (e.g. heroin and fentanyl.)

Regardless of their origin, all narcotics have a high potential for abuse, addiction, and overdose. For this reason, they are considered very dangerous when not administered as prescribed under the care of a physician. In a nutshell, narcotics are depressant drugs that dull pain but can also impair cognition and senses, cause sedation, and slow autonomic functions of the central nervous system to a life-threatening extent.

Although the word narcotic tends to have a negative connotation regarding the illegal drugs associated with it, it is also a standard term used in health care. From one to another, narcotic analgesics vary in their ingredients, strengths, dosages, and cost. Many are taken orally as tablets, capsules, or liquids, while others can be injected or administered as a transdermal patch.

List of Narcotic Drugs

The following is an extensive list of both prescription and legal narcotic drugs.


Opium is the raw, natural foundation for all narcotics. It is derived from the somniferum papaver poppy plant and contains several opiate alkaloids including morphine, codeine, and thebaine. These chemicals have pain-relieving properties and are also the basis for many modern drugs, including oxycodone (thebaine) and heroin (morphine.)

Opium is not as commonly abused in the United States as derived opiates and opioids due to its limited availability as a natural substance, although it is classified as a Schedule I drug per the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA.) However, when it is encountered, it is usually found as a brownish powder and can be smoked, drank as a tea, taken in pill form, or injected.

Morphine (MS Contin, Kadian, and Arymo ER)

Morphine, as noted above, is an opiate derived directly from the opium poppy that is used as an analgesic for the treatment of both acute and chronic pain, and is also used as a sedative before surgical procedures. Morphine is considered to be one of the most effective pain relievers on the market and is available in oral solutions, tablets, suppositories, and injection preparations.

Is the U.S, morphine is not misused nearly as often as heroin and prescription opioids, but still has a high potential for addiction and is most often abused via injection by those dependent on opioids.


Codeine is used as an analgesic and cough suppressant, but for pain, is widely considered to be less effective than morphine. In the U.S., codeine is only available in generic form or in combination products, such as Tylenol with codeine.

Codeine is generally thought to be less addictive than many more potent narcotics – that said, however, it still has the potential for abuse, dependence, addiction, and overdose.


is heroin a stimulant

Heroin is an illicit, semi-synthetic opiate, and like opium is heroin is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in the U.S., as it has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse and addiction.

It is commonly distributed as a brown-to-white powder or a less pure version known as “black tar heroin” which resembles a dark sticky tar-like substance.

Heroin can be snorted, smoked, or injected. Heroin creates a very intense and rapid rush of euphoria, but can also cause extreme sedation. Therefore, users often cycle between an awake and unconscious state, also known as being “on the nod.”

Overdose deaths due to heroin and its far more potent cousin fentanyl (see below) have increased dramatically since the turn of the century, and are involved in tens of thousands of deaths each year.

A heroin overdose is a medical emergency and is characterized by labored/difficult breathing, stupor, lethargy, confusion, clammy/cold skin, slow heart rate and blood pressure, a bluish tinge (cyanosis) to the nails and lips, and potentially, a complete loss of consciousness.

Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)

Oxycodone is an effective painkiller for moderate to severe pain, but if used for longer than a few days or abused, however, can quickly result in drug tolerance and dependence. Oxycodone is generally dispensed in tablet form and may be combined with an over-the-counter analgesic, such as acetaminophen.

Oxycodone is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning that it does have an approved medical use. However, it is also commonly abused – in fact, OxyContin (and other oxycodone products) contain a black-box warning concerning their high diversion (theft), abuse, dependence, addiction, and overdose potential.

Oxycodone pills/tablets can be crushed and the powder can be snorted, smoked, or injected. These methods increase the effects of oxycodone, but also increase the risk of addiction and overdose.

Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco, Lortab)

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Hydrocodone is an effective painkiller and the #1 prescribed and most often diverted and abused opioid drug. Prescribed in tablets, capsules, and syrups, hydrocodone medications can be swallowed, snorted, smoked, or injected.

The DEA has warned that hydrocodone is one of the top drugs found to be involved with prescription opioid overdose deaths, and it is considered to have a high potential for addiction. It is also frequently found in combination formulations with acetaminophen (Norco, Vicodin) which increases the risk of health complications when abused.

Hydromorphone (Dilaudid and Exalgo)

Another Schedule II narcotic derived from morphine, hydromorphone is dispensed in tablets, vials, suppositories, and injectables. The drug is frequently diverted via “doctor shopping” – e.g., forged prescriptions and sketchy prescribers – and through pharmacy and nursing home theft.

When abused, hydromorphone can be smoked, snorted, swallowed, and injected. It is very potent, highly addictive, and has a carries a significant potential for overdose when abused.

Meperidine (Demerol)

Demerol is a pain medication marketed as a table or syrup, and abuse often begins with a legitimate prescription for pain. A patient using Demerol for severe pain may become tolerant to prescribed doses and begin to escalate use (and evolve into abuse.)

Even when Demerol is used as directed with a prescription, a patient can become dependent on the drug and experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit – therefore, it can be challenging to stop using Demerol, resulting in misuse/abuse and addiction.

Methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)

Methadone is an opioid analgesic, although it is frequently prescribed for opioid dependence and detox as a replacement for faster-acting, more potent opioids such as heroin. It can be dispensed as a pill, wafer, or in liquid form, often administered through federally-regulated clinics.

Methadone is one of the longer-acting opioid agonists, as it remains active in the bloodstream for close to a full day. This means that it can be prescribed in lower doses and less often than other narcotics for the management of opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Buprenorphine (Subutex, Buprenex, Butrans, Probuphine and Suboxone, Zubsolv, and Bunavail)

Buprenorphine is a long-acting, partial opioid agonist drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid dependence, both on its own and included in buprenorphine/naloxone formulations such as Suboxone. However, it can still be abused and has a potential for dependence.

The inclusion of naloxone in combination with buprenorphine products acts as an abuse-deterrent. Moreover, naloxone is an antagonist drug – if buprenorphine combination products are altered for abuse, effects of the opioid agonist are blocked.

Tramadol (ConZip, Ultram, and Ryzolt)

Narcotic Drugs | Recovery by the Sea

Tramadol is a different kind of narcotic analgesic. It not only has opioid agonist effects but also blocks the reabsorption of norepinephrine and serotonin for additional painkilling properties.

Although Tramadol is considered to have a relatively low potential for abuse and addiction, it is still a controlled substance and those who are already dependent on opioids and chronic pain sufferers may be more likely to abuse it.

Fentanyl (Actiq, Fentora, Duragesic, Subsys, Abstral) and Carfentanil

Fentanyl is a very potent narcotic (up to 50 times more potent than heroin) prescribed for the treatment of chronic and severe pain in those who are tolerant to other opioids. As a prescription, is it often administered as a transdermal patch. In a hospital setting, it is also used for general anesthesia.

On the black market, fentanyl is not usually a product of drug diversion, however. Rather, it is illicitly made in Chinese labs and frequently cut into other drugs such as heroin to increase the potency of the product and maximize profits. It the last few years, it has been involved in an escalating number of overdose deaths, now numbering in the thousands each year.

Carfentanil is similar to fentanyl but 100 times more potent. It is not indicated for any medical use in humans, and in the U.S. is only used by large animal handlers for sedation. The drug can be lethal to adults in tiny doses of two milligrams or less and is extremely dangerous to even handle it, less alone consume it.

Treatment for Addiction to Narcotic Drugs

After detox, narcotic drug addiction is most effectively using a comprehensive, evidence-based approach that includes behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support. Our center offers these therapeutic services in inpatient, partial hospitalization, and outpatient formats.

Our professional medical and mental health staff specialize in addiction and can provide clients with the knowledge and tools they need to recover and enjoy long lasting sobriety and wellness. Recovery from addiction is a lifelong endeavor, but you don’t have to do it alone.

Dope Sick: What Does It Mean?

Dope Sick: What Does It Mean?

“Dope Sick” is a term that describes a pattern of symptoms related to withdrawal from opiates or opioids such as heroin or prescription painkillers. These symptoms occur when a person tries to quit using a drug abruptly or dramatically cut back.

Withdrawal complications from opiates and opioids are rarely fatal, but symptoms are highly uncomfortable and often lead to relapse or suicidal ideations. The severity and duration of symptoms are primarily dependent on individual factors, the intensity and frequency of drug use, and whether or not professional help is sought (medical detox) for the withdrawal process.

Dope sick withdrawal symptoms include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drug cravings
  • Excessive sweating
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Watery eyes and runny nose
  • Diarrhea

How Long Does Dope Sickness Last?

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Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within a few hours of the last use and tend to peak within 1-3 days. Effects begin to subside over the course of a week, but some symptoms may persist longer and take weeks to abate fully.

Treatment for Dope Sickness

Undergoing a medical detox is strongly recommended for anyone suffering from opioid withdrawals to avoid relapse and severe mental health issues. During detox, vital signs can be closely monitored and medications rendered to mitigate symptoms. Medication-assisted treatment usually includes opioid replacement therapy such as buprenorphine or suboxone to manage cravings and the worst effects of withdrawal.

Detox should be following by inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment for a period of not less than 30 days.

Benefits of professional detox following by addiction treatment include the following:

  • 24-hour medical supervision
  • Medication management for withdrawal symptoms as needed
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Nutritional assessment and guidance
  • Holistic treatment options such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, and more

There is a wide range of treatment options available to help those who want to get clean, so seek one out and make a huge change in your life today.

Snorting Hydrocodone

Snorting Hydrocodone | Recovery By The Sea

Snorting Hydrocodone – Hydrocodone (i.e., Vicodin, Norco) is a prescription opioid indicated to treat moderate pain. It is classified as an analgesic (pain reliever) but also acts as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant.

As prescribed, hydrocodone is usually found in tablet form and taken orally. For recreational or non-medical purposes, however, it is also frequently crushed into powder and administered intranasally by snorting the resulting product.

When hydrocodone is administered by snorting, the drug is rapidly absorbed into the mucous membrane, a significantly quicker route than using hydrocodone orally. When the drug reaches the brain, the result is an unusually intense flood of dopamine that produces the desired psychoactive effects – and thereby providing the catalyst for the drug’s addictive potential.

Snorting Hydrocodone: Tolerance, Dependency, and Addiction

When hydrocodone is abused for an extended period, tolerance and dependence can develop. Tolerance occurs when the person using the drug needs to administer a continually increasing amount to achieve the experience – moreover, the high – they are seeking.

Signs and symptoms of hydrocodone addiction include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Continued abuse of hydrocodone despite unwanted physical and psychological effects.
  • Lack of interest or enjoyment in activities and interests once regarded as important.
  • The use of hydrocodone in hazardous or improper situations.
  • Negative changes or issues in other areas of life such as work, school, relationships, and financial status.
  • General malaise, lethargy, or sedation.

Drug dependency occurs when the user’s central nervous system is no longer able to function correctly, and any efforts to quit or reduce drug use result in very uncomfortable mental and physical side effects. This is also known as withdrawal syndrome, a condition that can persist for hours to days depending on the severity of the addiction, typical dose, and duration of use.

Symptoms of hydrocodone withdrawal may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Severe headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach aches and pains
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stuffy nose
  • Shaking and tremors
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Chest tightness
  • Respiratory infections
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Respiratory depression
  • Coma
  • Death

Because snorting hydrocodone delivers the drug to the brain more rapidly than using tablets, the risk of tolerance, dependence, and life-threatening overdose increases. Finally, in addition to the above conditions, snorting hydrocodone can cause infection and severe damage to the nasal passage, septum, and surrounding tissues.

Snorting Hydrocodone and Overdose

Snorting hydrocodone, especially in conjunction with other drugs or alcohol can result in life-threatening central nervous depression, overdose, and death.

Symptoms of a hydrocodone overdose include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Restricted pupils
  • Low blood pressure
  • Pale or blue lips and nails
  • Limp body
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures
  • Extremely slow heart rate
  • Slow, labored respiration
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Gurgling sounds

Getting Help – From Detox to Addiction Treatment and Beyond

Despite the fact that hydrocodone abuse can result in many unpleasant and sometimes dangerous effects, many people who abuse prescription painkillers tend to downplay the severity of their condition. Moreover, some patients erroneously believe that if the drug is prescribed, it can’t be that dangerous.

Although hydrocodone misuse can lead to a variety of adverse effects, many who abuse prescription drugs such as hydrocodone minimize the seriousness of their disease. Rejecting help can be life-threatening and seeking treatment in any phase of addiction is fundamental to long-term recovery.


Clinical treatment for hydrocodone abuse starts with our detox program, a process in which the patient is medically-monitored by health professionals 24/7, and symptoms of withdrawal are treated through the use of medication-assisted therapy (MAT). MAT works to reduce drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms by using prescription medications designed to treat opioid use disorders, such as methadone and buprenorphine. After discharge, patients are encouraged to seek treatment in one of our evidence-based treatment programs, which include inpatient (residential stay) and intensive outpatient therapy (IOP) formats.

Treatment for Hydrocodone Addiction

Persons who seek security and structure often opt to stay in our residential treatment center around-the-clock for a recommended minimum of 30 days. Individuals who require more flexibility to attend to school, work or family responsibilities also have the option of IOP. IOP patients engage in treatment on a set schedule several times per week but are allowed more freedom and live independently outside the center.

Why Seek Our Help?

Hydrocodone addiction is a life-threatening condition that is best treated using long-term therapy, counseling, and support. Researchers have not found a cure for hydrocodone addiction, but it can be successfully treated. Those who accept help are given the opportunity to regain control of their lives and can look forward to long-term sobriety and wellness.

Our center offers patients a safe, structured environment and professional staff trained to recognize and treat the individual needs of each patient using an in-depth, custom approach to addiction treatment and recovery.

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