Side Effects of Taking Narcotics

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the misuse of prescription narcotics ranks second only to marijuana as one of the most commonly abused drugs. While many people may start out taking narcotics to treat a pain condition, subtle side effects of taking narcotics lures more than a few into a vicious cycle of abuse.

People who do eventually stop using typically experience immediate side effects of taking narcotics no matter how long or short a time they were on them. Those who continue taking these drugs find themselves dealing with addiction issues that soon overwhelm their ability to stop using.


Side Effects of Taking Narcotics

Narcotics can have very negative side effects for your mental and physical health.

Narcotic drugs, also known as opiates, are well known pain-relief medications. Drugs, such as Dilaudid, OxyContin and Demerol all accomplish the same goal of blocking or slowing pain signals between nerve cells. According to Elmhurst College, four categories of narcotic drugs exist:

  • Natural opiates, such as codeine and morphine
  • Synthetic derivatives of codeine and morphine
  • Synthetic replications of morphine
  • Opiate antagonist agents designed to counteract the effects of narcotics

While different opiate drug types come in various strengths, the side effects of taking narcotics remain the same for all types of opiate-based drugs.

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Individual genetic factors also influence how a person’s body will respond to narcotics effects. This means side effects of taking narcotics will be more pronounced for some people more than others. As narcotics effects are known to alter respiratory, heart and cognitive functions (to name a few), those most susceptible to side effects of taking narcotics may be at risk of developing serious health and/or psychological problems down the road.

According to the Stanford University School of Medicine, genetics also determines how effective narcotics will be in relieving pain symptoms. So some people may see better results from using narcotics than others.

Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

People who attempt to reduce their drug intake or stop using altogether experience various withdrawal side effects of taking narcotics, commonly known as acute withdrawal syndrome. These effects result from the body’s growing dependence on the drug’s effects. The severity of symptoms experienced from acute withdrawal syndrome depends on how long a person used and how large the doses were. In other words, the larger the dose, the longer you use, the worse your symptoms will be.

Common withdrawal side effects of taking narcotics include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Ongoing drug cravings
  • Irritability
  • Diarrhea

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Drug Abuse

As the body grows more and more dependent on narcotics effects, the likelihood a person will start to abuse narcotics increases accordingly making drug abuse another possible side effect of taking narcotics.

The difference between dependency and abuse lies in a person’s motivation for using. The body’s craving for the drug drives dependency. A person’s desire to get “high” drives abuse. When left untreated, dependency and abuse behaviors combine to form an addiction to narcotics where both the mind and the body must have the drug on an ongoing basis. Once addiction sets in, narcotic side effects increase exponentially as drugs cause ongoing damage to brain and body functions.

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the Take-Away

Regardless of an individual’s drug of choice there are negative side effects of taking narcotics. When you become dependent on these drugs there are side effects of ridding your body of them as well.