Narcotics Addiction

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Narcotic addiction treatment

Narcotics, commonly referred to as opioids or prescription painkillers, are one of the most addictive substances worldwide. From illegal street drugs to legal prescription opioids, narcotics can be found everywhere. Although there is medical use for narcotics, they easily can become abused substances.

Narcotic overdose deaths have reached epidemic proportions in the United States, with over 47,000 reported in 2014 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Treatment, which can be found at a narcotics rehabilitation center, can help free individuals of their addiction to these substances.

What is a narcotic drug?

So what is a narcotic drug? A narcotic drug is an opioid.

Opioids can be categorized as naturally occurring, semi-synthetic and synthetic. Opium is extracted from the plant Papaver somniferum (the opium poppy), and morphine is the primary active component of opium.

Opioids bind to the mu-opioid receptors in the brain and produce analgesia and euphoria. The human body produces natural opioids that bind to these receptors to alleviate the body’s pain. The word endorphin is a combination of two words: endogenous morphine. Endorphins are natural opioids produced in the body.

Ingestion of exogenous opioids, those not produced in the body, results in addiction. These opioids bind to the same receptors as endogenous opioids. Specific opioids isolated from the plant are known as naturally occurring, whereas semi-synthetic opioids are initially derived from plants, and other synthetic chemicals are added. The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies opioids as Schedule I, Schedule II or Schedule III, depending on their medical benefit and addictive properties.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a disease that manipulates a person’s sense of reward, motivation, memory and a number of related neurological functions.

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Types of narcotic drugs

  • Heroin
  • Oxycodone
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Methadone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Codeine
  • Morphine

Opioid intoxication can be lethal, and withdrawal symptoms, although not life-threatening, are physically excruciating and the main reason this class of substances if so addicting. Opioids can be taken orally in the form of a pill, lollipop or film, and injected intravenously. Death occurs from respiratory depression. Opioid intoxication includes the following signs:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Respiratory depression
  • Constipation
  • Dry secretions
  • Pruritus
  • Slurred speech
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Withdrawal symptoms of narcotics

Narcotics have such high addiction potential due their extreme withdrawal effects:

  • Agitation
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Gastrointestinal pain
  • Intense muscle pain
  • Excessive sweating

Those trying to overcome a narcotics addiction can normally find effective help through narcotic withdrawal treatment.

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Narcotic addiction treatment

Treatment for narcotics is essential to help alleviate the withdrawal symptoms and, therefore, break the addiction cycle. Suboxone, methadone, naloxone and naltrexone are the most commonly prescribed treatments for opioid withdrawal and addiction. Full treatment can normally be found at narcotic rehab centers.


Suboxone is composed of buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, and naloxone, an opioid antagonist. As a partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine produces less of an effect than a full opioid when it attaches to a mu-opioid receptor in the brain. When buprenorphine is stuck in the receptor, the problematic full opioids like heroin and oxycodone can’t get in, suppressing the withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with these problem opioids. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist or an opioid blocker. Naloxone can also bind to the mu-opioid receptor and, when taken alone, can cause severe withdrawal in opioid-dependent patients. Naloxone was added to Suboxone to discourage people from crushing and snorting or injecting Suboxone.


Naloxone is an injectable opioid antagonist given to individuals who are in an acute state of opioid overdose. It has a very short duration of action and causes symptoms of opioid withdrawal almost immediately after administration. By eliminating opioid binding to receptors, naloxone prevents respiratory depression and causes agitation, nausea, vomiting and severe muscle pain, which are all side effects of opioid withdrawal.


Naltrexone, commonly known as Vivitrol, is an oral opioid antagonist and is much more potent than naloxone. In addition, it has a longer duration and takes a longer time to reach its peak activity. While naloxone is administered in emergency care settings, naltrexone can be administered in outpatient settings over a long period of time.


Methadone is a full opioid agonist and is administered over time as an opioid taper to wean patients off of narcotics. Although this is the oldest treatment used for narcotic abuse, it is less commonly used today due to its addictive potential as a full agonist.

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Sovereign Health’s narcotic treatment program

Sovereign Health offers a variety of treatments that include detox medications, holistic therapies, family counseling, physical and psychological health evaluations, opioid abuse and health education as well as 12-step Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

Treatment involves supportive care and medications. Sovereign typically uses Suboxone to detox from opioids. So that each treatment can be customized to fit each patient’s needs, the medical director chooses the detox regimen, and it varies from person to person. To find help for yourself or a loved one with narcotics addiction, please do not hesitate to call our 24/7 helpline.