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Narcotic Abuse


Narcotics are medicines used to decrease or take away severe pain. Narcotics may also be called opioids. Some common names of narcotics ordered by a doctor are codeine and morphine. Heroin is an illegal street drug that is made from morphine.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You are very drowsy.
  • Your speech is slurred.
  • You have trouble thinking, remembering things, or focusing.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You want help or information on how to stop using or abusing narcotics.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Narcotic intoxication

usually lasts for several hours. You may have the following during or after you use narcotics:

  • Behavior or mood changes, such as a great feeling followed by the feeling that you do not care about anyone or anything
  • Trouble thinking, remembering things, or focusing
  • Small pupils
  • Feeling very drowsy
  • Slurred speech

Narcotic withdrawal

occurs if you stop using narcotics after using them heavily over a period of time. Signs and symptoms may begin within minutes or days and continue for days or even months:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Watery eyes or runny nose
  • Large pupils
  • Sweating or goosebumps on your skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Trouble sleeping

How narcotics can harm a pregnant woman and her baby:

  • Tell your healthcare provider right away if you are trying to get pregnant or you are pregnant and you are using narcotics. Your doctor may suggest other medicines to control pain and prevent withdrawal. If you go through withdrawal while pregnant, you may miscarry your baby, or he may be stillborn. He may be very small and have other medical problems.
  • When your baby is born, he may show signs of withdrawal. This includes unexpected weight loss, poor feeding, and more crying than normal. Your baby may also have a fever, vomit, and have diarrhea. He may also have learning problems or other health issues when he gets older. If you have a baby and you are using narcotics, you may have trouble caring for your baby. Narcotics may be passed to your baby through breast milk. Talk to your healthcare provider before breastfeeding your baby if you are using narcotics.

For support and more information:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
    PO Box 2345
    Rockville , MD 20847-2345
    Web Address:
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
    6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 5213
    Bethesda , MD 20892-9561
    Phone: 1- 301 - 443-1124
    Web Address:

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.