Narcotic analgesics medical definition

The term narcotic analgesics is well known to the professionals in the field of pain management, yet is not often understood by ordinary patients. Having studied this review, you can get new information and find out what are narcotic analgesics.

Medical definition of narcotic analgesics can differ. Definitions and terminology in the field of healthcare are often different, though the general essence does not change. Dictionaries with medical definitions are written in different years and in different countries of the world and therefore interpret some terms in a different way.

Narcotic analgesics, also known as opioid analgesics, opioid medications, and narcotic agents are drugs that:

  • Act centrally on the brain and/or spinal cord.
  • Can be used for anesthesia.
  • Are effective in relieving moderate, severe or chronic pain.
  • Work by binding to specific receptors, which take part in pain modulation and transmission.

All narcotic analgesics increase the threshold to pain. They have a high potential for abuse so they are usually taken for a short time. Opioid agents can be used for a long time, when the benefit of reducing severe or chronic pain exceeds the risk of dependence.

Initially, narcotic analgesics were considered any agents or compounds derived from opium and providing a powerful analgesic effect. Later, synthetic agents appeared, the structure of which resembles that of natural narcotic analgesics.

Medical definition of narcotic agents often includes the enumeration of drugs from this group.

The list of the most famous narcotic analgesics includes:

  • Buprenorphine,
  • Codeine,
  • Fentanyl,
  • Heroin,
  • Loperamide,
  • Meperidine,
  • Methadone,
  • Morphine,
  • Oxycodone.

Not all of these substances are approved by government regulatory agencies, like the FDA or EMA, and not all of them are widely used in medical practice, e.g. heroin. Those of them that are used are controlled substances and are available for sale only on prescription.

If the pain is sharp, narcotic analgesics are used in the form of tablets, oral solution or solution for intramuscular or intravenous injection. Sustained release tablets and capsules allow controlling chronic pain.

Narcotic analgesics can cause drowsiness, nightmares, depression, euphoria, hallucinations and other side effects. Adverse effects are dose-dependent and are easily controlled by reducing the daily dose of narcotic analgesics.

As a rule, medical definition of opioid agents does not include the information that they are widely abused and illegally sold on the streets for profit. But this is what is really happening and this is a serious problem of modern society.

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