Home » Sleep Medicine » Drug Therapies for Sleep » Definition of Narcotic

Definition of Narcotic

What is a Narcotic?

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Read our full medical disclaimer.

Narcotic comes from the ancient Greek word, narkō, which means “to make numb”. It is medically described as any compound that distributes hallucinatory hormones which have sleep-inducing effects.

Narcotic, in its main nature, is an opioid. Narcotics play a large, vital role in the medicine world. It is a drug that is responsible for producing analgesia and narcosis. Therefore, this is a drug mainly associated with painkillers. Painkillers contain some amount of opioid medicine and have been used ever since to ease the discomfort of dislocated ankles, toothache (and other severe body pain) and post major surgery treatment.

The three primary classifications of Narcotics are codeine, morphine, and thebaine (although thebaine is only mildly psychoactive).

In the writings of the law, the term “narcotic” is actually associated with negative connotations. In fact, in the US legal context, Narcotics are substances that are strongly prohibited. Heroin is one example or any kind of such drug that violates the rules of the government.

In the medical world, on the other hand, the term does not carry the same negative stereotype and is actually utilized and precisely defined. Aside from their universal use of treating several body pains, narcotics have the ability to produce a sense of well-being, or euphoria. This reduces anxiety, stress, and other factors. This also largely helps people dealing with sleeping disorders.

Keep in mind that narcotics can be awfully addicting. This article’s purpose is to provide a thorough understanding of narcotics and how it helps people with several syndromes.

How do narcotics work?

We all know that our spinal cord is a powerful gear that connects everything in our body. Our pain receptors are wholly associated with our spinal cord. Whenever we feel pain on our skin, this is immediately sent to the spinal cord, then up to our brain.

Narcotic drugs work by linking itself with opioid receptors in our brain. This cancels out the pain messages in our brain. The message then transfers to our spinal cord. It will then distribute itself to the parts of our body.

In simple terms, narcotics work by reversing the activity of pain receptors.

What counts as a narcotic?

The term “narcotic” has been widely used to refer to substances that provide mind-altering effects. These are mostly designated illicit drugs.

Although stereotypically negative, narcotics provide treatment for people with sleeping problems. Below are some of the most known narcotics in the market:

  • Opium
  • Codeine
  • Heroine
  • Fentanyl
  • Carfentanil
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Tramadol
  • Lortab
  • Tylenol with Codeine
  • Vicodin
  • Ultram ER

These drugs not only cancel out the pain signals in our brain but they also offer stress-reducing effects, enabling a person to have a sound and undisturbed sleep.

This also makes them a huge target for addiction and drug abuse.

Remember to never take for granted the terrible effects of drug abuse. Do not take these substances without your doctor’s consent.

Are sleeping pills narcotics?

While the term “narcotic” is described as substances that provide calm and euphoric effects, the same cannot be used to define drugs for sleeping disorders. In fact, a lot of prescription drugs aren’t classified as narcotics.

Although we feel a huge sense of relief after taking rounds of Zolpidem, Suvorexant and the like, these are not narcotic drugs. It’s very important to tell which is which so you don’t cause complications in your body.

The side effects

People often get so stressed out and tired that they seek peace out of fast-acting substances. Medicine’s main purpose is to provide an immediate cure to a patient. Narcotics are no stranger to this.

We all know for a fact that narcotics, because of their favorable effects, can be huge targets of addiction and substance abuse. Because of its powerful alloy, the interaction of narcotics with several opioid receptors in our brain remains highly intense.

Two out of the five Controlled Substance Schedules have a high potential of substance abuse and side effects. These are Schedule II and Schedule III substances.

Among the unfavorable side effects of narcotics are:

  • Itching
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of concentration
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Lessened physical activity
  • Pupil constriction
  • Dilation of blood vessels
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If these side effects remain unmonitored, it can lead to more serious, hazardous effects. These are:

  • Risk of infection
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal distention
  • Brain damage caused by hypoxia
  • Respiratory depression

Recent statistics concluded that in 2017, there were a total of 70,237 narcotic abuse deaths in the US. As a matter of fact, the use of prescription narcotics for pain has become controversial to a great extent in the US, and even in the whole world. This is because of the spreading concern about narcotic addiction, high-risk side effects, and worse, death.

Narcotics are, indeed, powerful medications for your sleeping disorders. But until your doctor gives you a prescription to take narcotics, don’t force yourself. Always take into consideration the adverse effects that substance abuse can bring you.

Additional References

Get Chapter 1 of our new book "How to Sleep Better" Free!
12 Days to the Sleep You Deserve
We respect your privacy.