There is a long list of narcotics that you should know about. Narcotics range from prescription medications to illegal street drugs. All of them have the potential to cause an addiction.
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Narcotics, also known as opioids, are some of the oldest substances known to humankind. Today, narcotics are among the most common and widely known class of drugs, which includes illicit opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers like fentanyl, Vicodin, and OxyContin. Their drug schedules range from Schedule I, which means it is illegal and has no medical use, to Schedule V, which denotes a lower abuse and addiction potential.
While opioid painkillers can be very effective in treating short-term pain, they can also produce intense euphoria, which is why many people misuse and abuse these opioids. Chronic narcotics abuse can lead to opioid addiction, a condition characterized by compulsive use regardless of negative consequences.1,2
In this article:
- Types of Narcotics
- Commonly Known Prescription Narcotics
- Lesser Known Prescription Narcotics
- Illicit Narcotic Drugs
- How to Get Help if You Are Addicted to Narcotics
- Inpatient vs. Outpatient Narcotic Treatment
Types of Narcotics
There are many types and categories of narcotics. Each type has a different use and is prescribed for different reasons. Some legal narcotics may be prescribed by your doctor but are still addictive and can be misused.1,2 Illegal narcotics can be found on the streets.2 All narcotics function in the same basic way and can be grouped into three categories.
- Naturally derived from opium
- Partially synthetic, a combination of naturally-derived substances and man-made substances
- Completely synthetic or man-made
Commonly Known Prescription Narcotics
Your doctor may prescribe opioid painkillers after surgery or an accident for the short-term treatment of acute pain. Others, like methadone, may be used as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction. Please use caution and discernment when taking these drugs, and make sure to take them exactly as directed by your physician. If you have long-lasting pain, you will need to talk to your doctor about available options.
Below is a list of popular prescription narcotics:3,4
- Tylenol with codeine
Lesser Known Prescription Narcotics
These narcotics may also be prescribed to manage severe pain for a short period of time. And some, like buprenorphine, may be prescribed to help treat an opioid addiction.
Below is a list of lesser-known narcotic drugs:3
- Oxymorphone hydrochloride
- MS Contin
- Vicoden ES
- Vicoden HP
- Oxymorphone hydrochloride
- Xartemis XR
- Tuzistra XR
Illicit Narcotic Drugs
Illegal narcotic drugs, such as heroin, do not have any accepted medical use and are extremely addictive. Although illegal, heroin is similar in structure and effects to prescription opioids.
Heroin is an illegal narcotic that is considered to be extremely addictive. It is derived from morphine, a natural opioid in the seedpod of the poppy plant, Papaver somniferum. The only way to obtain heroin is by illegal means on the street. Heroin can be smoked, snorted, or dissolved into liquid and injected. Heroin is usually illegally sold in a white powder form but can also show up as a brown powder or a black tar-like substance.5
How to Get Help if You Are Addicted to Narcotics
The United States currently has alarming rates of addiction to narcotics, also known as the opioid crisis. Nearly 71,000 people in the United States died from overdoses involving opioid narcotics in 2019.6
It’s important to be aware of the risks of using a narcotic. If your doctor prescribes you a narcotic drug that falls under this list, it might be a good option to talk with them to see if they can prescribe anything else to treat your pain. If not, you will want to make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.
If you are worried that you are addicted to narcotics, help is available to you, whether it’s inpatient or outpatient rehab, a support group like Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or otherwise.
The first step in getting help is realizing what options are available. The most effective form of treatment is a formal narcotic addiction treatment program, which occurs on an inpatient or outpatient basis. These treatment programs can help treat any underlying mental health conditions that may have influenced substance abuse, replace your unhealthy behaviors with healthier ones, equip you with coping strategies, and more. Every rehab is different, but most of them tend to create an individualized treatment plan specific to you and your needs.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Narcotic Treatment
An inpatient treatment center will require that you stay at the facility for the duration of your rehab program. This may be the right choice for you if a previous outpatient center did not fit your needs or you do not live close enough to an outpatient clinic. The benefits of this modality of care include 24/7 access to support—plus, you are able to focus on your recovery without distractions or temptations.7,8
An outpatient treatment program occurs in varying locations, such as doctors’ offices, mental health clinics, hospital clinics, and mental health offices. You do not stay over-night and you will continue your daily life’s activities, such as attending work or school. In outpatient treatment centers, you may have a couple of group therapy sessions a week and treatment can last for up to a year. A benefit of this type of treatment is that you can still go to work and meet other obligations.
For both of these treatment options to work well, it is important that you follow the prescribed program and stay committed to the work you are doing.7
If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to narcotics, please know that there is always help available. Please call 800-407-7195(Who Answers?) to start on your path to recovery today.
- Drug Enforcement Administration. (2020, April). Narcotics.
- Vorvick, Linda J. (2019, May 13). Pain medications – narcotics. MedlinePlus.
- It Matters Colorado. (2021). Opioids: Brand names, generic names & street names. American Society of Addiction Medicine.
- Drug Enforcement Administration. (2020, April). Opium.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021, April 28). Heroin. MedlinePlus.
- Department of Health and Human Services. (2021). What is the U.S. Opioid Epidemic?
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.
- University of Michigan. (2020, June 29). Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment for Substance Use Disorder. Michigan Medicine.