Are Stimulants Narcotics?

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Stimulants and narcotics are two different drug classes that cause contrasting effects and affect different cell receptors in the brain. There is some confusion over the difference between these two groups of drugs, but there are distinctive variations between them. If you require treatment for drug abuse or addiction, call (800) 407-7195 immediately to find a rehab that’s right for you.

Stimulants vs. Narcotics

Are Stimulants Narcotics

People often use the term narcotics to refer to all illicit drugs, even though this is incorrect.

These two groups of drugs are very different, but they also do have some similarities. For one, the substances in both drug classes cause euphoria when abused, and there are both illicit and prescription medications in each class. Abuse of these two groups of drugs is very high, and many individuals even take them together to intensify the effects of each substance. However, abusing either type of drug in any instance is dangerous and can lead to addiction, deadly overdose, and a number of psychological and physical issues.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “As the name suggests, stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration.” Stimulants are often abused to create a euphoric high or by those looking to enhance their performance, stay awake, or misuse their energizing effects. Narcotics act on different receptors in the brain and cause an almost reverse effect that includes pain relief, drowsiness, and a reduction in tension and anxiety.

Both these types of substances are dangerous when used without the permission of a doctor or in a way other than prescribed. Heroin, fentanyl, codeine, opium, and hydrocodone are all types of narcotics while cocaine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine are stimulant drugs.

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Why is There Confusion?

The confusion surrounding these two drug types occurs for several reasons, one of which is the way the term “narcotics” is often used. Many people use this word to refer to all drugs and, specifically, all illicit drugs. Therefore, someone may call stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine narcotics when the class itself does not actually contain these substances. The misuse of the word narcotics causes a great deal of this confusion.

Many people also do not realize these drugs cause differing effects. While they can both create euphoria, a person who takes stimulants frequently and in high doses will be likely to experience weight loss, psychosis, heart attack, psychological withdrawal symptoms, and severe cravings. Someone who abuses narcotics will be likely to experience constipation, severe respiratory depression, nausea, and more physical withdrawal symptoms (Drug Enforcement Administration).

Are All Drugs Narcotics?

Do Abusers of Both Drug Classes Require Treatment?

Yes. Any individual who abuses stimulants, narcotics, or both frequently and who has been doing so for a long period of time should seek out treatment as soon as possible. Either class can create addiction when a substance is abused for a long period of time, and deadly overdose can occur if the individual does not receive treatment quickly.

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(800) 407-7195
47,300* People Addicted
23,100* Getting Help
8,209* Deaths
*Statistic from 2015

If you have been abusing harmful substances or you know someone who has, call (800) 407-7195 now. We can help you find a treatment program in your area as well as answer any questions you may have about substance use disorders and their dangers.

the Take-Away

The term “narcotics” is often used to describe all illicit drugs, however this is not accurate. Narcotics are opiate-based drugs such as prescription painkillers and heroin. Stimulants are a completely different drug class.