Narcotics are drugs that are primarily used to relieve pain in clinical settings. Some types of narcotics, including heroin, are also used illicitly to produce intense feelings of euphoria. Besides the immediate therapeutic effects of narcotics, the drugs produce several potentially negative short- and long-term effects. Users may experience sleepiness, nausea, and vomiting shortly after taking a drug. Most narcotics are considered highly addictive, and their abuse tends to lead to long-term dependence and severe withdrawal symptoms.
Healthcare professionals commonly prescribe narcotics such as morphine, codeine, and oxycodone to help patients deal with chronic pain. They may be administered intravenously or through oral capsules, and act almost instantly to relieve pain and discomfort. Individuals under the influence of narcotics usually experience a significant drop in their ability to feel bodily pain. The immediate effects also include pleasurable, euphoric feelings; a release of anxiety and worries; and drowsiness.
Medical patients and recreational drug users commonly experience a number of symptoms as the immediate effects of narcotics wear off. It is common for an individual to feel sleepy and apathetic for several hours after using a drug. The pupils constrict, the face turns red as blood vessels dilate, and breathing becomes shallow. In addition, a person can experience mental confusion and a persistent itch all over his or her body.
It is possible to overdose on prescription or illicit narcotics. An individual's breathing can become so restricted that he or she can slip into a coma. As the central nervous system reacts to the overabundance of a narcotic, a person can suffer from severe convulsions that may lead to permanent nerve and brain damage. Without emergency medical treatment, it is very possible to die from a narcotic overdose.
Healthcare professionals have identified a number of long-term effects of these drugs as well. Clinical patients and recreational drug users gradually build a tolerance to them, meaning that they require higher and higher doses to achieve the desired effect. Users also become physiologically and psychologically dependent. A person is said to be addicted to a narcotic when he or she both builds a tolerance and becomes dependent on the drug.
There are countless ill effects of narcotic addiction. When a person's drug is not available, he or she can experience extremely intense physical withdrawal symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, chills, convulsions, and severe pain. The personal, social, and professional lives of users are often negatively affected, and many people begin to neglect their most basic responsibilities, such as eating regular meals. It is possible to overcome narcotics addiction by abstaining from use and seeking professional help from counselors and rehabilitation clinics.