The Strongest Narcotics and How They Affect You
In the past few years, the media has dominated headlines with the opioid epidemic sweeping the country. It’s estimated that approximately 40 people die each day from an opioid-related overdose. When most people think about narcotics and opioid drugs, they envision illicit street drugs such as heroin. Yet, a large percentage of opioid-related overdoses each year are related to prescription painkiller medications, but what are the strongest narcotics available?
Many people seem to believe that a doctor’s pain medications are somehow safer than street drugs, so they don’t always recognize the potential risks and effects of narcotics. In reality, all opioid painkillers can be highly addictive and dangerous if used in ways other than prescribed.
Here is a list of the strongest narcotics available:
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is estimated to be up to 50 times more potent than heroin. In recent years, dealers may mix fentanyl with heroin, which can increase the risk of accidental overdose.
Heroin was once marketed as a treatment for morphine addiction but was quickly removed from the market when it was recognized as being even more addictive than the drug it was supposed to treat. Now heroin has no recognized medical purposes and is easily the second strongest opioid.
Commonly sold under the brand name Dilaudid, hydromorphone is sometimes prescribed to treat severe or acute pain. Hydromorphone is known to cause instant effects that are similar to those produced by heroin.
Usually sold under the brand name Opana in pill form, oxymorphone is typically prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. As with all other opioids, it has a strong potential for abuse and addiction.
Methadone is a Schedule II controlled substance commonly used to treat opioid addiction, which often surprises people when they see it listed among the most potent opioid drugs. People recovering from opioid addiction may be prescribed methadone to help reduce any symptoms associated with withdrawal. The objective is to replace the drug of addiction with a controlled substance, doling out carefully measured doses.
While methadone is intended to help treat opioid addiction under medical supervision, there is still a risk of abuse. If a recovering person relapses after taking a methadone dose, there is an increased risk of overdose.
Oxycodone is one of the most common opioid medications prescribed to treat people in moderate to severe pain. Often marketed under the brand names OxyContin, Percocet, or Roxicodone, oxycodone has a high potential for abuse and addiction.
Morphine is derived naturally from the opium poppy and is commonly prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. Some physicians may prescribe morphine for people who are finding other types of opioid medications insufficient for treating chronic or acute pain. Although morphine is not synthetic, as most opioids on this list are, it still has a high potential for abuse and addiction due to the almost instantaneous effects it produces.
Hydrocodone is the single most commonly prescribed opioid painkiller medication in the US and is usually sold under Vicodin or Lortab’s brand names. Hydrocodone has a similar potency level to that of oxycodone and morphine, which is why it’s commonly diverted onto the illegal street market for sale for those more interested in abusing the medication for recreational purposes.
Just as with morphine, codeine is also derived naturally from the opium poppy plant. Codeine is sometimes added to prescription cough medications but is also prescribed to treat those with mild to moderate pain. The effects of codeine can be increased mildly when combined with acetaminophen (Tylenol). While the potency level of codeine is lower than many other types of opioid drugs, the potential for abuse and addiction still exists.
Meperidine is also known as pethidine and may be sold under the brand name Demerol. Meperidine was once the most commonly used medication used during childbirth but has somewhat fallen out of favor in more recent years.
While Tramadol is considered among the weakest opioids available, there is still is a risk of abuse and addiction following prolonged abuse of the medication. Commonly prescribed to treat mild to moderate pain, Tramadol may also be prescribed by its brand name Ultram.
Even the weakest opioids carry a risk of developing tolerance in those using the medications for some time. When tolerance is created, the person feels the need to take higher doses to achieve the same effects that used to be achieved with lower amounts. The alternative is to progress onto more potent opioids, which can lead to dependency.
If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of narcotics or addiction, take the time to speak to our medical team at WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today. Treatment is available at our Florida locations to help you begin your journey to recovery so you can enjoy your life without the need for opioid drugs.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.