Narcotics are commonly used in medical settings to manage pain both in and out of a hospital. This class of drugs can include any substance that has psychoactive and sleep-inducing properties. In the U.S., the term “narcotics” is typically associated with opioid drugs.

Although narcotics can be beneficial for managing pain, they are also a target for misuse and addiction. Based on these addictive properties, even the use of prescribed narcotics can increase the risk of dependence or misuse. People may misuse their prescription by taking a higher dose than recommended or using it more frequently. Narcotics are also used recreationally for their pain-relieving and calming effects.

Statistics on opioid addiction indicate that prescription opioid misuse is prevalent in the United States. Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that 91.8 million U.S. adults used prescription opioids, and approximately 4.7% misused them. The rate of narcotic pain prescriptions has been on the rise, and the frequency of narcotics-related overdose is also increasing.

Opioid misuse and addiction can cause serious health problems, and stopping use can be difficult and even dangerous. Knowing the risks, signs, and symptoms of misuse can help people identify problematic narcotic use. There are many treatments available to help people end drug use and begin the recovery process.

Most Commonly Abused Narcotics

Opioids are a target for misuse because they are strong painkillers that produce positive responses in the reward centers of the brain. More than 30% of Americans have some form of short-term or long-lasting pain, and around 4% have been given a long-term prescription for opioids.

The most commonly abused narcotics are also the ones that are most commonly prescribed. Even though many people associate opioid overdose with illegal drugs like heroin, over a third of overdose deaths in 2013 were a result of prescription opioids. Some of the most commonly misused opioids include:

  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Fentanyl
  • Percocet
  • Oxycontin

Statistics about the opioid epidemic indicate there has been a serious public health problem in the U.S. for the past several decades. As a result, there have been many awareness campaigns, an increase in prescription monitoring and a goal of reducing opioid prescriptions. Doctors are now trained to monitor narcotic abuse symptoms and consider the risks in prescribing these medications.

Narcotic Use in Florida

Though the entire nation is in an opioid epidemic, the crisis has been a serious concern in Florida. Statistics show Florida health care providers wrote 60.9 opioid prescriptions per 100 persons in 2017, compared to the national average of 58.7 per 100. In that same year, the majority of Florida drug overdose deaths involved an opioid.

To combat the crisis, there are strict narcotic laws in Florida that put limitations on the number of opioids that can be prescribed. For example, someone suffering from short-term pain can only be given a prescription that lasts three to five days. However, these regulations do not apply to people with chronic, long-term pain. Doctors must also take a course regarding the prescription of opioids, and there are serious penalties for those who do not follow these laws.

Signs and Symptoms of Narcotic Overdose

Someone overdosing on narcotics will show certain signs and symptoms, such as changes in physical appearance or behavior. If someone has overdosed on narcotics, they may be unresponsive and unable to talk. Some other signs of narcotic overdose include:

  • Narcotic Overdose Symptoms

    Slow or erratic breathing

    Loss of consciousness

    Dilated pupils

    Vomiting or choking

    Slow or irregular heartbeat

    Skin that is tinged blue or gray

    Limp body

The quicker that a person who has overdosed on opioids receives medical treatment, the better chance they have at recovery. There are some treatments that require a quick response in order to reduce long-term consequences or death.

Narcotic Overdose Treatment

Opioid overdose treatments have received a lot of attention as a response to the opioid crisis, and public awareness is growing. Bystanders and community members have a few different strategies for helping to treat a narcotic overdose. The main strategy includes administering a drug called naloxone, which acts as an opioid reversal.

Narcan for Narcotic Overdose

Narcan, a brand name of naloxone, is a key antidote for narcotic overdose. Narcan is a narcotic antagonist, meaning that it can reverse the effects of an opioid. If someone takes too much of an opioid and is experiencing serious symptoms, Narcan can reverse and block the effects of the drug until medical help arrives. The effects of naloxone are temporary, and further doses or additional medical intervention may be required.

Narcan has been an important opioid overdose prevention strategy because it doesn’t require medical training and can be kept at home or in the community. The drug comes as a nasal spray, but other formulations can also be injected. Narcan has been shown to be a safe and cost-effective way of managing opioid overdose, and the drug has no effect if opioids have not been used.

Narcotics Overdose Prevention

There are many strategies in place to help support opioid overdose prevention. Some of the best prevention strategies include reducing and regulating opioid prescriptions and improving awareness about the risks of using opioids. These prevention strategies can occur before a person even has access to opioid medications.

For people taking opioids, reducing the risk of overdose means only taking the recommended amount of your prescription. Having friends, family, members of the community and health professionals with naloxone training can help prevent long-term consequences if an overdose occurs.

Opioid addiction is a serious condition that can be challenging to treat. Narcotic treatment programs can help you stop taking opioids and develop skills to support your recovery. Narcotic rehab programs typically take place in an inpatient setting with additional supervision and structure. Rehab can also be done through outpatient care with regular therapy and medical check-ups.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a narcotic addiction, The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health can help. Contact us today to learn more about treatment plans and programs that can work well for you.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.