Narcotics change your response to sensations. Narcotics also produce mood changes, unconsciousness, or deep sleep. The primary medical use of these drugs is to reduce pain. Narcotics are also available illegally and are frequently abused. Sometimes people become dependent on narcotics that are prescribed for pain and continue to use and abuse them when they are no longer needed to manage pain.
Examples of narcotics are:
Narcotics may make you dependent or addicted when you take them over time to reduce pain or for the pleasant, drowsy, floating feeling they give. Also, if you take these drugs repeatedly you may develop a tolerance to them. Tolerance means you need to take ever higher doses of the drug to produce the same effects.
If you are dependent on a drug, you feel a need for the drug when it is stopped. If you crave the drug, or feel distressed without it, you are psychologically dependent. If you have bodily changes such as hot and cold flashes or tremors when the drug is stopped, you are physically dependent.
The factors that increase your risk of dependence include:
Narcotic dependence can be diagnosed if 3 or more of the following occur:
Your healthcare provider will take a complete history and examine you. A sample of your urine may be tested for drug use.
Your healthcare provider may test you for narcotic abuse by injecting a drug called naloxone hydrochloride into one of your muscles and recording your body's response. If you are using narcotics, your test will show some of the signs of a withdrawal reaction, including:
People who are dependent on narcotics may not get help until they overdose. If you have taken an overdose and have trouble breathing, the healthcare provider will clear your airway and keep it open with a breathing tube. You may need treatment in the intensive care unit in the hospital. When you can breath normally, the healthcare provider will give you a shot of naloxone hydrochloride and watch you for 48 hours. Naloxone hydrochloride blocks the effects of a narcotic overdose. Your healthcare provider or counselor will evaluate you and recommend a treatment plan.
Your healthcare provider or counselor will help you to admit that you have a drug problem. He or she will also help you identify the stresses in your life and find ways to better handle stress and anxiety.
Your healthcare provider may recommend community self-help groups, as well as individual counseling for you. Your treatment program will emphasize staying away from all narcotic drugs and other drugs of abuse for the rest of your life. Treatment with methadone may also be part of the program.
Parents, family, and friends may be involved in your treatment. You may also get information about nutrition, exercise, relaxation techniques, and stress management.
Withdrawal may last from a couple of days to 2 weeks. Recovering from narcotic dependence is a long-term process. Breaking the habit of dependence is difficult. The first step is to admit that you have a drug problem.
For more information, contact:
PO Box 9999
Van Nuys, California 91409 USA
Web site: http://www.na.org/