A narcotic is a drug that causes a loss of feeling, or paralysis. The name narcotic was probably first used by the Greek physician Galen. Galen listed mandrake root or poppy juice among the main examples for such substances. Narcotics are like opiates such as morphine and codeine, but are not made from opium. They bind to opioid receptors in the central nervous system. Narcotics are now called opioids.
Narcotics are highly addictive. Narcotics, whether they are prescription drugs or heroin, are some of the most addictive drugs that exist. When someone uses narcotics, they bind to opioid receptors -which triggers a flood of dopamine. That dopamine creates a reward and reinforcement response in the brain, which leads to addiction. People who use narcotics may experience euphoria or pleasant feelings. When people become addicted to narcotics, every aspect of their lives can be negatively affected. The body quickly builds a tolerance to narcotics, requiring higher doses of a substance to feel the desired effects. A narcotic tolerance leads to dependence. When someone is physically dependent upon narcotics, they will go through withdrawal when they stop using them. Opioid dependence complicates the issue of addiction even more and makes it much more difficult to stop using these drugs.
Today, the word narcotic is mainly used for illegal drugs, which do not necessarily have these properties. Marijuana and cocaine are considered to be narcotics, even they do not have the medical properties described.
- Francis Edmund Anstie (1865). "Stimulants and Narcotics: their mutual relations". Retrieved 2007-06-10.
- "De Furore, cap VI" (in Latin).
- Villa, Lauren. "What are narcotics?". DrugAbuse.com. Retrieved 2021-09-04.
- "Narcotics Addiction and Abuse". The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab. Retrieved 2021-09-04.