Narcotics are not always dangerous, terrible, evil substances associated with addiction, overdose, and crime. There are good reasons to prescribe painkilling drugs and responsible ways to use them.
Most individuals who take these medications do so for very short periods of time during which they are supervised by a physician and shown how to come off of the drugs safely to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Not everyone who takes these medicines will go through serious withdrawal or suffer from addiction and there are many patients who can tell you the benefits of Oxycodone, etc.
What Are Narcotics For?
Narcotics or opioids are only meant to be used as prescribed for severe pain. Fentanyl is administered via patch; morphine is given intravenously (IV); and codeine is a pill. One might have gone through a surgical procedure, experienced serious injury, or be suffering from a painful and chronic condition.
Over-the-counter painkillers are ineffective, but low doses of opioids go deeper to numb or at least reduce the pain. Pain is a critical stressor which reduces quality of life and, like other stressors, can be dangerous in its own right when severe and untreated.
When are Narcotics Dangerous?
Many articles in scholarly journals, newspapers, magazines, and on the internet depict sordid and frightening tales of addiction. People who have never encountered addicts or experienced addiction often believe in stereotypes which show that drug abuse and drug peddling only take part in the seedier sections of cities which are associated with crime and disenfranchised individuals.
Realistically, anyone can become addicted to drugs, especially narcotics, and this might be the drug most likely to ensnare those who believe they could never become desperate addicts. That happens to other people.
This judgmental, over-confident, ignorant attitude is no help when pain affects their lives. Moreover, since consumers are typically introduced to narcotics through their doctor, middle and upper-class Americans are more likely than poorer counterparts to obtain Oxycodone, etc. because they can afford medical treatment and prescription medication.
Injury and illness don’t only strike certain economic groups after all. This is the primary “legal” addictive drug out there; becoming addicted is far too easy. Substance abuse can lead to overdose and death.
Why are They Addictive?
Opioids tell the brain the problem has been dealt with; pain is under control. Ordinarily, a body would produce chemicals which take on this role naturally but in smaller doses. The next level of pain would be covered by acetaminophen or ibuprofen as well as natural painkilling chemicals.
After that, there are some low-dose narcotics like codeine and, beyond that, Fentanyl, morphine, and others. If they take the place of natural chemicals for a long time, those chemicals stop showing up for work at all.
Their return is only prompted by a period of withdrawal from painkillers during which time the body is unable to produce and not permitted to take opioids. No one wishes to go through that kind of hell which might no longer have anything to do with the offending injury or condition.
What Happens to People in Withdrawal?
There are a couple of possibilities here. A doctor might call for cold-turkey detox and refuse to provide drugs to treat drug addiction. This speeds the process of detoxification but at the risk of causing someone to go into shock or suffer a heart attack unless he or she is under careful supervision the whole time.
In extreme cases, a doctor would probably prescribe weaker medications and possibly some alternative treatments for pain such as acupuncture. That is more likely to take place in a private rehab facility, however.
Certain centers promote sedated detoxification during which time chemicals are forced out of one’s body brutally, speedily, but under total sedation. A patient is unaware of what his or her body is going through and wakes up without any or only a few withdrawal symptoms to deal with.
This is a controversial sort of program, usually only offered to paying clients at private clinics. The problems associated with sedation are that this in itself is an inherently risky procedure. Anesthetics are dangerous though useful.
Secondly, treating addiction to a drug with another drug is considered risky since the two might interact and, on a philosophical level, some people object to the very idea. Thirdly, there are those who believe addicts should experience withdrawal as an incentive to avoid opiates in the future.
Withdrawal symptoms, lasting a few days to a couple of weeks, include itching, severe pain, nausea, headaches, vomiting, and hallucinations. Most individuals suffer some anxiety and pain but degrees vary. Every person’s experience differs. It is rare for an individual to experience psychosis-like symptoms, and few people suffer a heart attack, stroke, or seizure during the process if they are under medical care.
When the body has detoxified almost completely, this is a good time to start rehabilitation. If a patient simply needed physical help weaning off of drugs, there is probably no necessity to go through psychotherapy or cleansing. Patients with chronic pain issues will take part in pain management classes and perhaps enroll in alternative Eastern treatments or therapeutic classes.
Many clients at detox facilities have developed a drug problem. Their addiction led to buying drugs illegally and they are in deep trouble mentally. If a mental health problem is really what inspired one to keep using drugs and disabled his or her ability to cope, it’s time for this person to learn what triggers addictive behaviors and how to cope with stress in such ways as to avoid falling into a similar trap with opioids or other drugs in the future.