Narcotics, or the medical term narcotic, refers to opium and opium derivatives or synthetic substitutes.  Narcotics are used medically to relieve intense pain and suppress coughs.  Under medical supervision, narcotics are administered orally or by intramuscular injection.  Narcotics have a high potential for abuse.  As abused drugs they are sniffed, smoked, or self-administered by the more direct routes of subcutaneous (“skin-popping”) and intravenous (“mainlining”) injection.  Some narcotics come from the resin that is extracted from the seed of the Asian poppy.  This group of drugs includes opium, morphine, heroin, and codeine.  Other opiates, such as Meperidine (Demerolâ), are synthesized or manufactured.


Text Box: Symptoms:
·	Euphoria, lethargy
·	Lack of motivation
·	Drowsiness, slowed pulse
·	Constricted pupils
·	Flushing of skin on face, chest and neck
·	Constipation
·	Needle marks on extremities
·	Abscesses at injection sites

Overdose Symptoms:
·	Shallow breathing
·	Slowed pulse, clammy skin
·	Pulmonary edema
·	Respiratory arrest, coma
·	Convulsions, possible death

Withdrawal Symptoms:
·	Runny nose, teary eyes
·	Excessive yawning
·	Goose bumps
·	Diarrhea, tremors
·	Chills, shakes, sweating
·	Muscle jerks, cramps
·	Nodding, sleep

Prescription and Over-the-counter Narcotics:
Morphine: Morphine Sulphateâ
Codeine: Codeine, Empirin with Codeine, Cough syrups with Codeine
Heroin: Diacetylmorphineâ
Others: Percodan,â Talwin,â Lomotil,â Darvonâ

Street Names:
Morphine: Morpho, Unkie, M Miss Emma, Hocus
Codeine: Schoolboy
Heroine: Snow, Stuff, Harry, H, White Horse, Horse, Hard Stuff, White Stuff, Joy Powder, Scag, Junk
Meperidine: Doctors
Methadone: Dollies, Methadose

What drugs are considered narcotics?

Opiates come in a variety of forms including capsules, tablets, syrups, solutions, and suppositories.  Opium appears as dark brown chunks or as a powder and is usually smoked or eaten.  Heroin can be a white powder, which is usually dissolved in water and then injected.  Although a small amount of opium is used to make antidiarrheal preparations, virtually all the opium imported into this country is broken down into its alkaloid constituents, principally morphine and codeine.  There are several dangers, besides the obvious, when using narcotics:

·   Contaminates used to dilute narcotics such as quinine, sugar, and talcum powder may cause reactions.

·   Use of un-sterile needles and injection techniques may result in blood poisoning, hepatitis, abscesses, and AIDS.


Morphine the principal product of opium is one of the most effective drugs known for the relief of pain.  Morphine is the active ingredient in most narcotics, marketed in the form of white crystals, hypodermic tablets, and injectable preparations.  It is used legally primarily in hospitals.  Morphine is odorless, tastes bitter, and darkens with age.  It may be administered subcutaneously, intramuscularly, or intravenously.  Tolerance and dependence develop rapidly.  Only a small part of the morphine obtained from opium is used medically.  Most is converted to codeine.


Dilaudid,â a shorter acting and more sedative drug than morphine, is usually 2 – 8 times the potency.  Dilaudid is usually marketed in tablet and injectable form and is generally obtained through theft and false prescriptions.

Codeineâ is mostly produced from morphine.  Used for relief of moderate pain, codeine may be in the form of tablets or can be combined with other products, such as aspirin or acetaminaphin (Tylenol 3â).  Liquid codeine preparations are used for the relief of coughs.  Codeine is also manufactured to a lesser extent in an injectable form for the relief of pain.  It is by far the most widely used naturally occurring narcotic in medical treatment.


Percodanâ is similar to codeine but is usually mainlined.  Percodanâ is much more potent and has a higher dependence potential than codeine.


Does using opiates cause dependence or addiction?

Yes.  Dependence is likely, whether using large amounts frequently or occasionally over a long period of time.  When a person becomes dependent, finding and using the drug often becomes the main focus in life.  As more and more of the drug are used over time, larger amounts are needed to get the same effects.  This is called tolerance.  Withdrawal signs usually begin shortly before the user’s body expects its next dose of narcotics.


Which opiates are abused?

Heroin accounts for 90% of the opiate abuse in the United States.  Sometimes opiates with legal medicinal uses also are abused.  They include morphine, Meperidine, paregoric (which contains opium), and cough syrups that contain codeine.  Physical dangers depend on the specific opiate used, its source, the dose, and the way it is used.


What is heroin?

Heroin, of all illegal drugs, is responsible for the greatest number of deaths.  In its pure form, heroin is white and has a bitter taste.  Most street preparations of heroin are diluted or “cut,” with other substances such as sugars, quinine, food coloring, powdered milk, starch, or cocoa.  Illegal (street) heroin comes in different forms, ranging in color from white to dark brown.  The color denotes the amount of impurities left from manufacturing or the presence of food coloring or other dilutents that range in ratios of 9: 1 to 99:1.  Heroin is usually “mainlined,” but it can be inhaled or smoked.  Heroin may cause physical and psychological problems such as nausea, panic, insomnia, and tolerance.  Its addictive properties create a need for repeated use of the drug (craving) and painful physical withdrawal symptoms.  Heroin is addictive because it activates the regions of the brain responsible for producing both the pleasurable sensation of “reward” and physical dependence, accounting for user’s loss of control.


  • Uncertain dosage levels (due to differences in purity), un-sterile equipment, contamination with cutting agents or other drugs such as alcohol or cocaine are responsible for the serious health problems and dangers associated with heroin use.
  • It is estimated that at least 1 in 6 persons with AIDS probably acquired the virus through needle sharing.  The virus is carried in contaminated blood left in the needle, syringe, or other drug-related implements.  Heroin itself, as well as a drug-using lifestyle, may depress the body’s ability to withstand infection.


What is black tar heroin?

This form of heroin resembles roofing tar or coal, and ranges in color from dark brown to black.  A processed form of heroin, black tar heroin is illicitly manufactured in Mexico and has become increasingly available in the western parts of the United States.  It is sold on the street in a highly pure, tar-like state but is also sold in a diluted form.  Adding materials such as burnt cornstarch that are of a similar consistency dilutes black tar heroin.  It can also be made into powder and combined with mannitol or quinine and injected.


Text Box: Treatment for Opiate Addiction:
The basic approaches to drug abuse treatment are:

·	Detoxification.  Supervised withdrawal from drug dependence, either with or without medication, in a hospital or as an outpatient.
·	Therapeutic communities where patients live a highly structured drug-free program, which emphasize various forms of counseling as the main treatment.
·	Methadone maintenance, which provides methadone, (a substitute for heroin) to an opiate-dependent person on a daily basis to help them lead productive, lives while still in treatment.

When an opiate-dependent person stops taking the drug, withdrawal usually begins within 4 – 6 hours after the last dose.  The intensity of withdrawal symptoms depends on amount of the drug taken, how often and for how long.  These symptoms for most opiates are stronger approximately 24 – 72 hours after they begin and subside with 7 – 10 days.  Sometimes symptoms such as sleeplessness and drug craving can last for months.


How does methadone treatment work?

Methadone, a synthetic or manufactured drug, does not produce the same “high” as drugs such as heroin, but does prevent withdrawal and the craving to use other opiates.  It can be a successful treatment for opiate dependence because it breaks the cycle of dependence on illegal drugs.  When patients are receiving methadone treatment, they are not inclined to seek and buy illegal drugs on the street, activities that are associated with crime.  Patients in methadone maintenance programs also receive counseling, vocational training, and education to help them reach the ultimate goal of a normal drug-free life.  This experimental treatment has, in some cases, been reported to cause patient addiction to methadone.  Methadone treatment is not widely used and is still being researched.





Reference Material :

National Drug & Safety League (A non-profit charitable organization).