Why Are Some Narcotics Illegal While Others Aren’t?

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Narcotics are a category of drugs that include all substances, synthetic and natural, that come from the poppy plant and have opioid-based qualities. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, “Examples include the illicit drug heroin and pharmaceutical drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, codeine, morphine, methadone, and fentanyl.” But why are some narcotics illegal while others are not?

Illegal Narcotics vs. Prescription Narcotics

Narcotics Illegal

Some narcotics are prescribed for pain management, and are safe if used as directed.

In the United States, the Controlled Substances Act lists drugs and other substances that could potentially be harmful or are otherwise controlled under government regulations. “Narcotics/opioids are controlled substances that vary from Schedule I to Schedule V, depending on their medical usefulness, abuse potential, safety, and drug dependence profile.” Those listed as Schedule I drugs, like heroin, are not used in any medical sense and have a high abuse potential. Those listed in lower Schedules have varying medical uses and lower abuse potentials than those of the Schedule above them.

This is why there are illegal narcotics like heroin, which are not used for any type of medicinal purpose and, therefore, are illegal to have in any instance, and other drugs that are considered legal to use through a doctor’s care. Most commonly known opioids are legal to take under a doctor’s treatment, but these must be taken exactly as prescribed. Otherwise, this could be considered drug abuse, which is illegal in itself.

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The Illicit Use of Narcotics

Any time a person buys, sells, or uses heroin, this is considered substance abuse and an illegal act. However, even though a person can take prescription opioids legally when prescribed them by their doctor, many still abuse these prescription drugs by buying them, selling them, stealing or faking prescriptions in order to obtain more, or just taking them in higher doses then prescribed. These acts are also considered illicit substance abuse because the only way to legally take prescription narcotics is to take them exactly as a doctor has prescribed them.

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According to the National Library of Medicine, “When used carefully and under a health care provider’s direct care, these drugs can be effective at reducing pain,” but if they are taken without a doctor’s permission or against their prescription in some way, they can potentially become just as dangerous and just as addictive as heroin. Therefore, it is not always legal to use prescription narcotics, and especially if you are taking them without the explicit permission of a healthcare professional licensed to prescribe them, you are illegally abusing narcotics.

List of Illegal Drugs

Illegal Opioid Abuse is Dangerous

Some narcotics can be helpful to many people, as long as they are taken as prescribed. This is the main reason why there are both illegal and prescription opioids. However, you must remember that the illegal abuse of opioids––no matter what kind––is dangerous and that this can always occur with any prescription narcotic if you take it without a doctor’s instruction and care. Call (800) 407-7195 today to find out more about narcotics or to find treatment centers in your area for opioid addiction.

the Take-Away

Prescription narcotics are legal because they are effective at treating pain, and can be safe if used as directed by a doctor. However, heroin is illegal because it is unregulated and has no known medical use.