Prescription narcotics are most commonly prescribed to treat pain, but may also be used as cough suppressants. These medications can be safe and effective if used as directed by a doctor.
What Can Narcotics Help Treat?
Narcotics are opioid-based medications that can treat a number of symptoms and conditions based on a person’s needs and treatment program. Narcotics can be very beneficial medications that, when taken under a doctor’s direct care, will not cause lasting problems. They can be dangerous, though, if a patient begins to abuse them or a person takes them without a prescription.
The main reason opioids are prescribed to patients is to relieve pain. This could be both chronic and acute pain, although a different narcotic may be used for different types of pain. For example, according to the National Library of Medicine, oxycodone is meant to treat cases of “moderate to severe pain,” while fentanyl is used to treat “breakthrough pain” or “sudden episodes of pain that occur despite round the clock treatment with pain medications” (NLM). Some drugs are used to relieve pain related to cancer and other chronic issues while others may be used in the ED.
There are many different types of pain; therefore, many different types of narcotics exist to treat it. Certain patients in certain situations (like those coming out of surgery) require stronger medications like morphine while others may only need a milder narcotic like codeine. Still, any one of these medications can become addictive if abused and cause serious and sometimes even deadly side effects if taken in extremely high doses. A patient must always take their medication exactly as prescribed and avoid any misuse of a narcotic, no matter how strong it may be.
A person who has been treated with any type of narcotic consistently will also likely need to be weaned off it when their medication regimen is finished. This is because “withdrawal symptoms are common when [a person stops] taking a narcotic,” and your doctor will want to help you avoid going through withdrawal, instead letting your body gradually get used to the dwindling amount of medication until it no longer needs it (NLM).
Treating Other Issues
Some narcotics can treat cough as well. According to the NLM, “Hydrocodone relieves cough by decreasing activity in the part of the brain that causes coughing.” Codeine, another narcotic, can perform the same function. These drugs are also in a class called antitussives or cough suppressants. In addition, both codeine and diphenoxylate can be used to relieve “severe diarrhea” by inhibiting muscle movements in the bowels (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
Codeine cough syrup has recently become one of the more problematic drugs of abuse that many teenagers misuse to get high. This has become a very serious issue because, like all opioids, codeine in high doses can cause respiratory failure, and many teens who abuse the drug do not realize this. However, these drugs can be taken safely when prescribed by a doctor and taken at the prescribed dosage.
Being Treated with Narcotics
Narcotics are drugs that can be helpful to those who take them––as long as they do not stray from their doctors’ prescriptions and stay aware of how the drugs are affecting them. However, when someone does begin to abuse their prescription, they will need addiction rehab in order to overcome this dangerous condition. If you have more questions about narcotics or if you would like to find a rehab center near you, call (800) 407-7195.