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For many years, narcotics have been use for their analgesic purposes to ease pain and promote a calming effect.  Originally, narcotics were all derived from the opium poppy but many of today’s narcotics are actually synthetically created in a medical laboratory to simulate the effects of those which come directly from the poppy plant.  Regardless of where the narcotics come from or how they are created, they have a high potential for abuse and use can lead to physical dependence, addiction, overdose and even death.

While used safely and under proper doctor supervision, narcotics have a small potential for abuse and are not widely dangerous.  Unfortunately, a lack of information about the drugs or misguided information about them can lead to extreme consequences.  Even when narcotics are taken under the direct supervision or care of a prescribing physician, there is an extreme potential for abuse and for subsequent physical dependence.

Types of Narcotics

There are many different types of narcotics that are widely used in the medical field as well as on the streets in the form of illicit drugs.

Some of the most common narcotics include:

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Narcotics Names

You may hear all sorts of street names or lingo used to describe narcotics.  Some of the more common names that are used on the streets to describe a variety of different narcotics include:

  • Schoolboy
  • Junk
  • Horse
  • H
  • Harry
  • Scat
  • Smack
  • Brown sugar
  • Demerol
  • Dilaudid
  • Hydro
  • Perks
  • Perco
  • Painkillers
  • Fen

These are just some of the commonly used street names that describe a wide range of narcotics including heroin, Percodan and Percocet, fentanyl, merperidine and hydromorphone to name a few.  You may hear other names especially when these narcotics are paired with other drugs or used in other ways such as the term “speedballing” which describes the user of a narcotic with methamphetamine or cocaine (A VERY DANGEROUS COMBINATION).

How Narcotics are Used


Various street names exist to disguise the sale and use of narcotics.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, there are a variety of ways that narcotics may be administered either by a healthcare professional or for recreational use.  The most common method of narcotic use include injection, oral ingestion, suppository, or smoked.  In the medical field, the drugs are typically injected into the bloodstream, under the muscle or into the skin.  This method is also very common for use among those who are addicted to these drugs.  Narcotics such as heroin are also smoked when used recreationally or could be snorted.  Many prescription painkillers are also crushed and snorted as well.

Many narcotics are legal but they are only legal when prescribed by a medical doctor and they are used as prescribed.  When these drugs are used against the recommendations of the doctor or in an ill manner other than the way that they are prescribed they become illegal controlled substances.  Heroin and opium on the other hand are not legal, not ever and would never be prescribed by a doctor!

Dangers of Narcotics

There are many ways that a narcotic can pose dangers to the user.  Even when an individual uses a narcotic the way it is prescribed, such as to treat pain, there is a risk of physical dependence developing and a subsequent risk of addiction.  Some additional dangers pertaining to the use of heroin, opium, morphine, painkillers and other narcotics include:

  • Lack of sex drive
  • Chronic constipation
  • Tremors or muscle twitches (these get worse when withdrawals set in)
  • Toxic psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Overdose related death
  • Drug induced illness or disease such as AIDS
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Inability to sleep without narcotics

Many additional dangers can become evident with prolonged use of narcotics or if the user become physically dependent on the drug and begins to go through withdrawal symptoms associated with this drug use.

Are Narcotics Addictive?

What do these drugs Look Like?

If you’re trying to figure out if a drug that you’ve found is a narcotic, you may have a little difficulty figuring out what the drug is simply because there are so many different types of narcotics on the street today.  If the drug is a pill and you suspect it is a narcotic pain medication, it should have some form of a describing number or letter or combination of the  two either on one or both sides of the pill  You can check an online resource to determine what type of pill it is by looking up the description.

Most narcotics, especially painkillers, are in the form of either:

  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Skin patches
  • Powders
  • Liquids that vary in color from clear to brown or black
  • Suppositories

Keep in mind that these drugs can be altered in a number of ways and this can change the appearance.  For instance, a painkiller that is crushed to be snorted or mixed with a liquid and injected will no longer look like the painkiller that it is.  It may look like an orange or white or other colored powder.  Heroin can be in a tarry form or it may be in a powdery form.  The exact composition and makeup of a narcotic can differ greatly from one to the next.

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

Narcotics Effects

These drugs are prescribed for the following purposes:

  • Pain relief
  • Cough suppressant
  • Diarrhea suppressant
  • Sleep aid

Narcotics have various effects and the effects can be stronger or more pronounced if the drugs are taken through injection or snorted versus oral ingestion.  Additionally, the amount of a drug that is taken will also have a lasting effect on the rapidity of the induction of the “high” associated with the drug and other effects.

The most common effects of narcotics include:

  • Slowed physical activity
  • Reduced breathing
  • Reduced anxiety or aggression
  • Constricted pupils
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech

Many other effects can appear with subsequent use of narcotics and in the event that a physical dependence occurs there will be a rash of side effects associated with withdrawal when the drugs are no longer taken including things like:

  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Joint pain
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation

What Are the Different Classes of Narcotics?

Narcotics Addiction & Treatment

Sustained use of painkillers or other dangerous narcotics such as heroin will lead to changes within the body that result in a perceived need to use the drugs just to feel “good”.  This is known as tolerance and physical dependence.  While not all users will experience an actual addiction as a result of physical drug dependence, many people who abuse narcotics will suffer from addiction that requires treatment in order to heal and get well.

Some of the methods of treatment that are available for those who suffer from narcotics addiction include:

Many people who suffer from long term addiction to narcotics will work their way through many aspects of treatment before they are comfortably recovered from the addiction and can go on to live normal lives.

For more information on narcotics abuse, addiction, and treatment options, call (800) 407-7195.

the Take-Away

Narcotics are used to treat severe pain. If misused, the user can become dependent and addicted to the drugs and could experience serious side effects.