The most common illegal narcotic for recreation purposes is heroin but all prescription narcotics have the potential for abuse. Opioids (or opiates), in particular, may cause addiction after prolonged use, and many opioid painkillers such as Vicodin, Percocet, Duragesic and OxyContin are in fact much more dangerous and more used than heroin itself.
Narcotics are normally used to treat pain but people also use them for recreational use, as they give a subjective sensation of euphoria or an intoxicating “high.” Heroin in particular can simulate a very powerful orgasm sensation followed by relaxation and then sedation or sleep.
History of Narcotics
Usually people that take narcotics to treat pain do not became addicts. However, if used to treat chronic conditions, then in due time, patients will start developing a tolerance. This mean that they need to increase the dose, which in turn, can trigger a vicious cycle that can lead them to addiction and abuse. Heroin trafficking is still one of the biggest drug markets worldwide and—although it is the most dangerous, life-threatening drug around—it is still today the most used illicit substances, especially in prison settings.
Heroin use is steadily rising along with the deaths caused by this drug. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that heroin use increased 63% between 2002 and 2013, with an estimated 517,000 people who used it in just 2013 (+150% compared to 2007.)
More than 8,200 people died of heroin-related overdose in 2013, according to national surveys published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report—more than four times than the numbers reported in 2007.
Although other narcotics present a less immediate threat to people’s lives than heroin, the data is no less alarming.
Medical Risks of Prolonged Narcotics Abuse
In 2009, data from the NSDUH showed that over 16 million Americans people aged 12 and older used narcotics for nonmedical purposes once in a year, with almost 23,000 individuals engaged in recreational use of Vicodin.
Heroin and narcotics are life-threatening drugs that can cause a patient’s death. As they cause respiratory depression, an overdose (called OD) can have fatal consequences. Other long-term effects include constipation, light intolerance, cardiovascular disorders and intense withdrawal symptoms.
Social Risks of Narcotics Abuse
Heroin and narcotics are highly addictive drugs. Due to the extreme harshness of the withdrawal symptoms, the addicted patient is always craving a dose to get “base.” Also, narcotics and heroin can be very expensive and can lead the addicted into abject poverty condition or damage his own family’s well-being. Paranoia and depression are often associated with the abuse of these drugs.
Several social support programs that help patients get help in narcotics withdrawal exist and usually emphasize abstaining from all narcotics and other drugs use. Several detoxification programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous, are available and have shown to be effective in reducing a person’s risk of returning to drug abuse. Family support for long-term treatment is also often available.