As we mentioned earlier, narcotics are prescribed by doctors to relieve
pain that won't respond to everyday painkillers,
What we didn't mention, but which
you probably already know, is that they're also self-prescribed by people who take them to
There are two
main groups of narcotics: opiates
and synthetics. Opiates are derived from the opium
poppy and include such drugs as morphine,
codeine, and heroin. Synthetic
narcotics are similar, but are created from other chemicals
in drugs laboratories.
The undisputed world heavyweight champion of all the narcotics is heroin. It's sold as a brown or white powder
or as a tar that can be injected, sniffed, or smoked. Heroin
causes intense physical and psychological dependence.
Tolerance to heroin develops so quickly, in fact,
that addicts have to constantly up
their dosage to produce desired effects. And as tolerance goes
up, so does the risk of overdose--and
One reason heroin use is so
risky stems from the fact that the drug is illegal--and
its potency is unpredictable. Users can never
be sure of the purity of the drug they're using--and sometimes,
they only find out the
Another problem that's linked
to heroin is AIDS. That's because users often have to
share needles and
sharing needles is one of the best ways of spreading the
AIDS virus. That's why heroin addicts are one of the highest-risk groups for AIDS infection.
narcotics are like heroin
in their effects, producing the same kind of high--and the same
kind of addiction.
Common synthetic narcotics include
and Percodan®. Methadone,
another synthetic narcotic, is distributed to addicts in clinics
as a substitute for heroin.
drugs are chemicals made
by changing the molecular structure of other drugs, which is
kind of like switching pieces around in a jigsaw puzzle.
Designer drugs are dangerous because their effects are usually unknown and unpredictable. In fact, a few years ago, a heroin-like designer
substitute permanently paralyzed several
people who were unlucky enough to try it.
And that brings up one of the
most important dangers of all drugs sold on the street:
know for sure
what they're getting.
way they can find out dosage strength and purity is to experiment on themselves.
And sometimes when they do find out, it's already too late.