That definition is the legal definition of narcotic; pharmacologically, narcotics are the class of drugs that have a depressive effect on the central nervous system. (Not marijuana for instance) Most are opioids such as heroin or morphine and make you sleepy, hence the root narco- as in narcolepsy. Cocaine, however, is for some reason classed pharmacologically as a narcotic, though I'm pretty sure its the only one that's more of an 'up' than a 'down'...

(as defined by the USADA and outlined in their athlete guide)
  • Alphaprodine
  • Anileridine
  • Buprenorphine
  • Dextromoramide
  • Diamorphine (heroin)
  • Dipipanone
  • Ethoheptazine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Levorphanol
  • Methadone
  • Meperidine
  • Morphine
  • Nalbuphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Pentazocine
  • Pethidine
  • Phenazocine
  • Tincture Opium

    Many preparations of codeine are allowed, as are all NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). This lists is given in the USADA Guide published December 2000, and may not be comprehensive.

  • Narcotic analgesics are medications used to treat pain. Narcotics are controlled substances, that is, drugs with moderate to high abuse potential. Pain is one of the most under-treated problems in medicine. This is mainly due to the following reasons:

    • fear of addiction: both physicians and patients have this fear; however it has been found that when narcotic analgesics are used as indicated for pain, the potential for addiction (barring pre-existing risk factors) is low. Also, adequate early treatment of pain is directly linked to faster healing and lower overall analgesic use.
    • fear of tolerance: i.e. physicians or patients are afraid that if narcotics are used in progressive disease, they will lose their effectiveness.
    • fear of physical dependence: Physical dependence is different from addiction. Addiction is psychological dependence on a drug, whereas physical dependence is the presence of withdrawal symptoms when a drug is discontinued.
    • fear of respiratory depression: this is only critical when there are respiratory problems, or in head injuries when respirations and the central nervous system are depressed anyway.
    • bias of healthcare professionals: many times, medical personnel’s perception of the patient’s pain differs significantly from the patient’s. Patients are easily perceived as whiners, hypochondriacs or addicts by caregivers. The ONLY one who knows how bad the pain is is the patient. Period. End of story. Even if you had the same thing and got by on a baby aspirin a month.
    • fear of legal implications: Doctors put their license on the line when they prescribe narcotics, so they are understandably reluctant to prescribe them more than necessary.

    A narcotic overdose is treated with a narcotic antagonist, such as Narcan (naloxone) or Trexan (naltrexone).

    Narcotic (opioid) analgesics

    Brand/Generic Drug Names

    Alfenta/alfentanil, Stadol/butorphanol, codeine, Dalgan/dezocine, Duragesic/fentanyl, Dilaudid/hydromorphone, Levo-Dromoran/levorphanol, Demerol/meperidine, Dolophine/methadone, Duramorph or MS Contin/morphine, Nubain/nalbuphine, Roxcodone/oxycodone, Numorphan/oxymorphone, Talwin/pentazocine, Darvocet or Darvon/propoxyphene, remifentanil
    Common uses
    moderate to severe pain, preoperative and postoperative analgesia
    interact with opioid receptors at spinal cord level depressing pain impulse transmission
    Class contraindications
    allergy, narcotic addiction, acute bronchial asthma, upper airway obstruction
    Class precautions
    addictive personality, increased intracranial pressure, severe cardiac, renal, hepatic disease, respiratory conditions, seizure disorders
    Increased central nervous system depression: barbiturates, narcotics, hypnotics, antipsychotics, alcohol
    Adverse Reactions
    nausea, vomiting, anorexia, constipation, cramps, light-headedness, dizziness, sedation, respiratory depression, respiratory arrest, circulatory depression, increased intracranial pressure
    Additional Information
    Assess intake and output, respiratory status, central nervous system status, allergic reaction
    Administer antiemetics if vomiting occurs
    Provide assistance with walking
    Evaluate therapeutic response: decrease in pain
    Date of most recent Update
    September 09, 2002
    Further information is available in the writeup for the specific name(s) of this medication class

    Nar*cot"ic (?), a. [F. narcotique, Gr. , fr. to benumb, na`rkh numbness, torpor.] Med.

    Having the properties of a narcotic; operating as a narcotic.

    -- Nar*cot"ic*ness, n.


    © Webster 1913.

    Nar*cot"ic (?), n. Med.

    A drug which, in medicinal doses, generally allays morbid susceptibility, relieves pain, and produces sleep; but which, in poisonous doses, produces stupor, coma, or convulsions, and, when given in sufficient quantity, causes death. The best examples are opium (with morphine), belladonna (with atropine), and conium.

    Nercotykes and opye (opium) of Thebes. Chaucer.


    © Webster 1913.

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