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Narcotics & Opiates: Risks, Proper Usage, and Regulation

pills falling out of bottle

Recent news has highlighted the opioid crisis in America. On a daily basis reports of deaths flow in. It’s sad, but also the result of much misinformation. Oftentimes people are prescribed medications and believe that they can share those medications with friends.

The key to fighting the epidemic and managing medications is to understand what these terms mean, as well as risk factors for abuse, how the drugs are regulated, and how to prevent abuse.

Opiates

An opiate is a natural substance derived from opium, which comes from the opium poppy. Morphine and codeine are examples of opiates, which are chemical compounds derived from the opium poppy.

Opioid

An opioid works the same way as an opiate but does not occur naturally. They’re synthetic or semi-synthetic. Fentanyl and methadone are common synthetic opioids, while oxycodone is a semi-synthetic opioid. These are the drugs that are in the news because of the epidemic.

Narcotics

Technically an opioid is a narcotic, however, most medical professionals have stopped using the term because it is associated with illegal drugs. A narcotic is a drug that essentially numbs a person.

Risks of Using Narcotics

Narcotics cause a person to feel drowsy and a temporary high. They’re used to relieve pain. While these medications are commonly used after back surgeries or after a traumatic incident, they have a high rate of abuse.

This is why physicians who prescribe opiates are extremely strict about not just who they prescribe to, but also how much they prescribe and whether the prescription is refilled. Oftentimes a questionnaire is given to patients to assess the risk of addiction. We’ll ask about family history, genetics, age, and more.

Proper Usage of Medications

When it comes to taking medications the most important thing is to take them according to your doctor’s directions. Additionally, it’s critical that you stay in regular contact with your doctor while taking the medication, pay attention to any adverse side effects, and report any issues immediately.

While you might not think you have a problem, reporting these issues to your doctor can help them determine if something just isn’t right or if an addiction is developing.

Regulation of Opioids

Opioids are considered a class II substance and strictly regulated by state and federal governments. As a result, physicians can only prescribe a small amount at a time and the prescription goes into a database that allows tracking to limit the probability of abuse.

If you have questions about narcotics or narcotic abuse, contact us. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have and help educate about these drugs.

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