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Narcotics are a type of medications that is normally prescribed to alleviate severe pain, as a symptom of many medical conditions. The term narcotic was first used to refer to any psychoactive compound that has sleep-inducing properties. For example, a narcotic was a name once used for opioids, morphine, heroine and their derivates. Today, the meaning of this term is changed and it is used to refer to any kind of illegal drug that is enjoyed in violation of governmental regulation and law. For example, narcotic abuse now includes use of marijuana or PCP, also known as angel dust. When a certain drug is classified as narcotic, it also increases penalties for violation of drug control statutes. For example, the penalty for possession of marijuana is greater than the penalty for possession of amphetamines, only because marijuana is classified as a narcotic and amphetamines aren’t.

What are narcotic drugs?

The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 classifies more than 116 drugs as narcotics. Narcotics are mainly plant-based products, opium and its derivates: morphine, heroin and codeine. However, there are many synthetic narcotics including methadone and pethidine, cannabis, coca and cocaine. In the context of law, narcotic drug as any drug defined by the Convention. In medicine, narcotic drug is a chemical agent that induces stupor, coma, or insensibility to pain.

How do narcotics work?

A drug is classified as a narcotic if it stimulates the pain receptors in human brain. Pain receptors are specialized nerve endings located throughout the body that transmits any kind of pain, from injury, movement or diseases. They are stimulated by release of pain producing chemicals that arise from local blood vessels, and send pain signals to the spinal cord and brain. Narcotic drug works by obstructing the flow of this information and “numbing” the part of the brain that should be able to process information about pain. Narcotics abuse occurs anytime when a person continue using narcotics (in both medical and the context of law) even though they are damaging their own health, destroying the relationships, or engaging in a risky situations (legal problems, driving a vehicle while on drugs, inability to function normally in daily life).

What is narcotic dependence?

Dependence on narcotics develops whenever person encounters at least three characteristic problems, associated with narcotics abuse, in a single year. These problems are: tolerance (increased need for narcotics), withdrawal (symptoms on quitting the use of drugs), using similar drug to reduce symptoms of withdrawal, losing a control over drug abuse, being unable to decrease the use of narcotics, spending less time with others, spending more time using narcotics or thinking about it, maintaining the habit despite worsening of physical or mental condition.

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