The DEA defines a narcotic as a drug that relieves pain and dulls the senses. Based on this definition, opioids are considered a type of narcotic. When it comes to the use of opioids and narcotics they can be particularly dangerous because oftentimes they are obtained legally and for legitimate medical reasons. However, they are highly addictive and people find themselves getting addicted to these sometimes, oftentimes through no fault of their own.

When it comes to identifying opioid dependency and addiction, it’s important to understand both the short and long-term effects of each substance as well as potential withdrawal symptoms. 

Let’s take a look at some of the more common types of narcotics as well as some of the short and long-term effects of them and some of the signs that you or someone you know may be suffering from withdrawal symptoms. 


Opium is a highly addictive substance that is made from the opium poppy seed pod. While opium is not made in the U.S. and the use of opium in its pure form is rare today, the components of opium are used to help make many other narcotics such as morphine, codeine, fentanyl, methadone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.

Side Effects and Symptoms of Opium Abuse

types of narcotics

Someone who is suffering from opium abuse or opium addiction might display some of the following signs:

  • Irritability
  • Volatile behavior
  • Lack of interest in hobbies
  • Change in social circles
  • Changes in appearance
  • Disregard for personal hygiene
  • Unexplained financial problems
  • Struggling to complete daily tasks
  • Drastic and unexplainable mood swings
  • Engaging in risky or even dangerous behavior

There are also some physical symptoms that can point to an opium problem. Those include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Lethargy
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Redness of skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Low blood pressure


Heroin is an extremely addictive opioid that can result in significantly pleasurable and cognitive effects when attached to the opioid receptors in the brain. It is considered a Schedule I drug by the federal government it has no accepted medical use and therefore can only be obtained illegally on the street. Heroin is particularly popular because it produces many of the same effects that prescription pain killers do for a fraction of the cost on the street. 

Some common signs of heroin abuse include:

  • Track marks, scabs, or sores if injected
  • Nosebleeds in snorted
  • Constant coughing if smoked
  • Pinpoint or small pupils
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Malnutrition
  • Money problems 
  • Financial problems
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Changes in social circles
  • Changes in personality traits
  • Finding needles or pipes lying around
  • Hiding of concealing parts of their body to avoid seeing marks on the skin

For some, they are able to identify that they have a problem when it comes to heroin and might even try and stop using on their own. The withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin abuse can be so extreme that many go back to using it to alleviate the pain and suffering associated with withdrawal. Some withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Achy muscles
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Uncontrolled shaking
  • Sweating
  • Muscle spasms
  • Intense cravings
  • Depression


list of opioids

While considered an opiate, codeine is more commonly found as one of the active ingredients in many over-the-counter cough syrups. Though it is an active ingredient in these cough syrups, it’s not actually proven to help with cough suppression at all. It is much better at treating diarrhea as well as moderate to mild pain. 

Due to the fact that you can legally get codeine in these cough medicines, they are often used and abused even when no cough is present. Since it is easily obtainable, the signs of a codeine addiction might not as clear-cut as some other narcotics. Some potential signs that someone might be abusing codeine include:

  • Clammy hands or feet
  • Slowed breathing
  • Changes in vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Changes in sleeping pattering
  • Nodding off
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Itching
  • Lung infection
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Sleep disorders

Like so many other narcotics, the symptoms associated with withdrawal can be so severe that many people find themselves turning back to codeine simply for relief from these symptoms associated with withdrawal. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Diarrhea


Oxycodone is a pain reliever that is often prescribed to deal with moderate to severe pain and pain management cases. In fact, oxycodone is found in many different pain relief and pain management medications that are either administered by a doctor in a hospital or prescribed by one. While oxycodone has many medical uses and can be incredibly effective when it comes to pain relief and pain management, it is also highly addictive. Some might even find themselves becoming dependant on or even addicted to oxycodone through no fault of their own. 

Some signs of oxycodone addiction include:

  • Poor grooming
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Strange thoughts
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Uncontrolled itching
  • Hallucinations
  • Dilated pupils
  • Diarrhea
  • Change in social circles
  • Change in hobbies
  • Becoming more secretive
  • Doctor shopping


Hydrocodone is the most commonly abused prescription opioid on the market today. In fact, in 2014 alone almost 2 million Americans ages 12 and older had abused hydrocodone in some form. Some of the most common signs that someone might be abusing hydrocodone include:

  • Anxiety
  • Fearfulness
  • Paranoia
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Doctor shopping
  • Hiding or stashing pills
  • Changes in hobbies or social circles
  • Continuing to try and obtain prescriptions even when they are no longer medically needed


list of opioids

Morphine was one of the first drugs ever to be synthesized for medical use dating back to 1803 and is still used today. Like so many other medically prescribed opioids, morphine can be highly addictive and many people who use it find themselves becoming dependent on the substance almost instantly. In fact, it can take as little as just a few doses to find yourself addicted to morphine. Signs of a morphine addiction include:

  • The development of a high tolerance
  • Trying to quit unsuccessfully
  • Changes in social circles or activities
  • Obtaining morphine through any means necessary 
  • Financial problems


Fentanyl is a very strong and very potent opioid. In fact, it is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. Medically, it is used to treat severe pain and is one of only a handful of prescription opiates that are approved for long-term treatment. It is also highly addictive due to how strong it is. Someone who is addicted to fentanyl will typically display the following signs:

  • Chest tightness
  • Mood swings or changes
  • Poor coordination
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hallucinations
  • Strange thoughts
  • Obtaining fentanyl in any way possible
  • Changes in social circles
  • Lack of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Not able to complete basic activities without using

How Can I Get Help For Narcotic Addiction?

For someone who is suffering from narcotic addiction, it can be very difficult to stop taking these substances, even if they want to. As we mentioned above, the symptoms associated with withdrawing can be brutal, and in some cases worse than the symptoms that are associated with the addiction itself. That’s why detox is such a crucial first step in the rehab process. 

In order to begin treatment and start the road to recovery, you have to rid your body of the harmful substances that are currently in it. Due to the severity of many of the withdrawal symptoms, it is also crucial to undergo the detox process under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals. This can be done at either a local medical facility, a dedicated detox center, or a treatment center that also provides detox services such as Coastal Detox. 

Attempting to self-detox can be incredibly dangerous and potentially life-threatening. It’s also very difficult to resist the added temptation when the withdrawal symptoms get bad enough. 

Want To Know More About the Different Types of Narcotics?

Suffering from a narcotic addiction can be particularly difficult because in many cases people find themselves addicted through no fault of their own. This can lead to feelings of shame or embarrassment. It’s important to know though that addiction is nothing to be ashamed of. 

If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction and is ready to take that initial step on the road to recovery, contact us today. We will talk to you about our many different detox and treatment options and help you get back on track to living a happy, healthy, and sober life.