Everybody experiences pain. It may be chronic pain that you feel throughout your life. It may be acute pain after sustaining an injury or during recovery from surgery. Of course, there are medications to help relieve the symptom of pain and they come in many ways. They can be injections, pills, topical creams, and even transdermal patches. They can be over-the-counter like common aspirin and NSAIDs or can be by prescription only. They can be divided into narcotic painkillers and non-narcotic painkillers.
For the purposes of this paper, we will be discussing narcotic painkillers. First, in order to understand the availability and classification of a narcotic painkiller, you must understand controlled substances. In 1970 “The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act” was put into effect (Turley, 2010). This put drugs in into certain “Schedules” of drugs. A Schedule One drug would not be a drug that is available legally in any way, even with a prescription, and currently have no acceptable medical use.
They are said to have high potential for abuse and addiction. These drugs include street drugs such as LSD and heroine. Marijuana is also a Schedule One but it is however currently debatable if it has beneficial medical use. A Schedule Two has a high potential for abuse yet has currently accepted medical uses, however it requires a doctor’s prescription. There are usually severe physical and psychological dependence when using such drugs. Narcotic painkillers in this category include codeine, morphine, and OxyContin.
The next would be Schedule Three which has less severe physical and psychological dependence. Vicodin is in this category. Another in this category is the antagonistic drug Tylenol with Codeine that work well together to relieve pain. Following this would be schedule four and then five which have progressively less dangers for the patients. In terms of narcotic painkillers, you’d find cough syrups with codeine in schedule five. Even though there is a lot of stigma and scare with narcotic painkillers, it obviously is here for a reason and has beneficial therapeutic effects.
Its therapeutic effects are in the name itself, painkillers kill pain. People with chronic pain can’t do things that we may take for granted. They can be in pain just by getting out of bed in the morning or simply walking or lifting even light objects. Pain killers can return their life to some state of normalcy. In less extreme cases, people that suffer an accident such as to break a bone, painkillers get the person through the next week or two with some degree of comfort.
This concept also applies to having a tooth extracted or having an invasive surgery. The pain and incredible discomfort during the recovery process is made tolerable with these narcotic medications. Unlike NSAIDs and other anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotic painkillers do not decrease inflammation. They act by working on the pain receptors in the brain. (WebMD, 2011) They also provide a sense of euphoria to keep a sense of well-being in the patient during a time of distress. This may be where the problem of abuse comes into play.
This on top of the fact that people can grow a tolerance and need more and more of the drug to reach it’s desired effect. The withdrawal symptoms from legal prescription painkillers such as OxyContin are comparable to heroine and cocaine. In conclusion, narcotic pain killers are here for a reason. The therapeutic effect is very beneficial to those with chronic pain or those with severe short term physical distress. However, there are many dangers in terms of abuse and overdose that must be kept in mind.
Taking your medication as directed by a doctor, especially the tapering off period when coming off the medication, is most advisable. It’s good to know the different classes of medications to keep yourself educated on the potential dangers of what you are taking and, once again, follow doctor’s orders.? References Levesque, M. (2009, August 14). Arthritis and Narcotic Pain Medication. WebMD. Retrieved December 9, 2011, from http://www. webmd. com/osteoarthritis/guide/narcotic-pain-relievers Turley, S. M. (2010). Understanding Pharmacology for Health Professionals. (4th ed. ).