Narcotics is a term used for a group of opioids/opiates, or more generally, painkillers. In addition to relieving pain, they produce a sense of well-being by reducing aggression, tension and anxiety among the users. Though therapeutic, their abuse is common and can cause a variety of unwanted effects, including drowsiness and inability to concentrate.
Narcotics is available in various forms, including tablets, capsules, powder, liquid, syrups or skin patches. It can be swallowed, sniffed, smoked or injected. Some narcotics occur naturally, while some are manmade. The naturally occurring ones, specifically morphine and codeine, are derived from gummy paste extracted from the seedpod of a poppy plant called opium. Others are created by changing the chemical structure of the existing opioids. The manmade ones are prepared using chemicals but they act like opium. Most opioids/opiates are prescribe by doctors to treat severe pain, but the ones like heroin are used and abused illegally.
Following are some of the commonly used narcotic drugs:
How narcotics work
All types of narcotics work by targeting specific opioid receptors called the “mu,” “delta” and “kappa” receptors found in the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal tract. With its ability to bind to naturally occurring opioid receptors in the brain and nervous system, narcotic drugs produce euphoria and provide relief from pain. When someone consumes a narcotic, it affects the limbic system, the brainstem and the spinal cord. Opioids decrease the feeling of pain in the spinal cord before it reaches the brain. The brainstem controls things like breathing. So when opioids hit the breathing mechanism, it slows down. Likewise, when narcotics hit the limbic system, they can make the user feel euphoric and relaxed.
Narcotics are often abused owing to their ability to produce strong effects and intense euphoric feelings. Hence, with their increased or frequent use, one develops tolerance to them, thereby, increasing the chance of an overdose.