- What are narcotic pain medications (opioids, analgesics)?
- What are the side effects of pain medications?
- Are pain medications addictive?
- What are the withdrawal symptoms of addiction to pain medications?
- Which drugs and supplements interact with pain medications?
- Can I take pain medications if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- List of examples narcotic pain medication brand names available in the US
- Where can I get help and support for pain medication addiction?
- What forms of pain medications are available?
What are narcotic pain medications (opioids, analgesics)?
Narcotic medications are used for treating moderate to severe pain.
Narcotic pain medications attach to receptors on nerves in the brain that increase the threshold to pain (i.e., the amount of stimulation it takes to feel pain), and reduce the perception of pain (the perceived importance of the pain). Most men and women take narcotic pain medication for short-periods until the pain lessens or goes away. Some adults have chronic pain, which requires proper pain management since long term use can lead to drug addiction and tolerance (the need for increasing doses). Narcotic pain medication have a high potential for misuse, abuse, and diversion to supsceptible.
The CDC has recently developed and published the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain to provide recommendations for the prescribing of opioid pain medication for patients 18 and older in primary care settings in 2016.
What are the side effects of pain medications?
Common side effects of narcotic analgesics include:
Severe side effects of narcotic analgesics include:
Are pain medications addictive?
Prescription narcotics are the most commonly abused opioids and the leading cause of opioid-related overdose in the U.S. Taking any opioid - even prescription opioids - for long periods can result in dependence, which means if you suddenly stop taking the drug you will have withdrawal symptoms. A small percentage of people taking narcotics will become addicted. Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by:
- Overpowering cravings, with compulsive drug use.
- The inability to control drug use, and continue to use them despite harm to the self or others.
Opioid addiction can result in an increased chance of :
- Serious heart infections (endocarditis)
- Narcotic bowel syndrome
What are the withdrawal symptoms of addiction to pain medications?
Signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Flu-like symptoms (fever, sweating, shivering, runny nose)
- Goosebumps (piloerection)
- Dilated pupils
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Fast heart rate
- Sleep problems (insomnia)
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- Tremors (shaking)
- Loss of appetite
- Joint or muscle pain
- Leg cramps
Which drugs and supplements interact with pain medications?
- phenelzine (Nardil)
- selegiline (Zelapar, Emsam, and Eldepryl)
- tranylcypromine (Parnate)
- procarbazine (Matulane)
- rasagiline (Azilect)
- isocarboxazid (Marplan)
The discontinuation and initiation of narcotics and MAO inhibitors should be separated by at least 14 days.
Narcotics should be used with caution with these central nervous system depressants because of an increased risk of respiratory depression, low blood pressure, sedation, and in severe cases, coma and death.
- alprazolam (Xanax)
- clonazepam (Klonopin)
- diazepam (Valium)
- zolpidem (Ambien)
- zaleplon (Sonata) and alcohol because of increased risks of respiratory depression,
- Low blood pressure
- In severe cases, coma and death
Narcotic pain medications should be used with caution with medications that alter liver enzymes that affect the elimination of narcotic analgesics because levels of narcotic analgesics can increase or decrease in the body and thereby affect their therapeutic effectiveness.
Naloxone (Narcan) is a medication used to reverse the effects of narcotics, especially in acute overdose situations. In some states, Narcan is available via a prescription to the public for use in high-risk situations (such as having a close family member with a recent history of narcotic addiction or overdose).
Can I take pain medications if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
There are no adequate studies of narcotic pain drugs to determine if their use is safe and effective during pregnant women. Narcotic analgesics may pass through breast milk and affect the baby they should be avoided in females who are breastfeeding.
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List of examples narcotic pain medication brand names available in the US
Examples of narcotic analgesics are:
- hydrocodone (Zohydro ER, Vicodin, Lortab)
- oxycodone (OxyContin, Roxicodone, Percocet)
- methadone (Methadose, Diskets, Dolophine)
- hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
- morphine (Avinza, Kadian, MSIR, MS Contin)
- fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic Sublimaze)
- oxymorphone (Opana)
- meperidine (Demerol)
- tramadol (Ultram, Ultracet, ConZip)
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Where can I get help and support for pain medication addiction?
Narcotics Anonymous World Wide Services is a global community based organization with a multicultural membership.
What forms of pain medications are available?
Pain medications are available as:
- methadone as immediate-release tablets
- oxycodone and morphine extended-release tablets.
- morphine and hydrocodone are available as extended-release capsules.
- morphine as intravenous, subcutaneous, and intramuscular injections
- fentanyl oral lozenge (Actiq) and topical patch (Duragesic)
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Related Disease Conditions
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Tailbone Pain (Coccydynia)
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Lower Back Pain (Lumbar Spine Pain)
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Shoulder and Neck Pain
Shoulder and neck pain may be caused by bursitis, a pinched nerve, whiplash, tendinitis, a herniated disc, or a rotator cuff injury. Symptoms also include weakness, numbness, coolness, color changes, swelling, and deformity. Treatment at home may incorporate resting, icing, and elevating the injury. A doctor may prescribe pain medications and immobilize the injury.
Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Pain
Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain is a general term to reflect pain in the SI joints. Causes of SI joint pain include osteoarthritis, abnormal walking pattern, and disorders that can cause SI joint inflammation including gout, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Treatment includes oral medications, cortisone injections, and surgery.
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Ankle Pain (Tendonitis)
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Neck Pain (Cervical Pain)
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Cancer pain is a common experience that may result from the disease, treatment, or diagnostic procedure. Check out the center below for more medical references on cancer, including multimedia (slideshows, images, and quizzes), related disease conditions, treatment and diagnosis, medications, and prevention or wellness.
Treatment & Diagnosis
Medications & Supplements
- codeine (for Pain)
- hydrocodone and ibuprofen, Vicoprofen
- hydrocodone (Zohydro ER)
- Side Effects of Norflex (orphenadrine)
- hydrocodone/homatropine (Tussigon)
- Side Effects of Percocet (oxycodone/acetaminophen)
- Side Effects of Oxycontin (oxycodone)
- Percodan (aspirin and oxycodone hydrochloride)
- Belbuca (buprenorphine)
- Side Effects of Stadol (butorphanol)
- Butrans (buprenorphine)
- Flector Patch (diclofenac epolamine)
- Sprix (ketorolac tromethamine)
- Kloxxado (naloxone hydrochloride)
Prevention & Wellness
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Centers for Disease Control. CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. 29 August 2017. 9 November 2018
Eric Strain, MD. Opioid use disorder: Epidemiology, pharmacology, clinical manifestations, course, screening, assessment, and diagnosis. 13 September 2018. 9 November 2018
Kevin Sevarino, MD, PhD. Opioid withdrawal in adults: Clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis. 10 April 2017. 9 November 2018
CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. CDC. Updated: Aug 29, 2017.
FDA Prescribing Information
Eric Strain, MD. Opioid use disorder: Epidemiology, pharmacology, clinical manifestations, course, screening, assessment, and diagnosis. 13 September 2018.
Kevin Sevarino, MD, PhD. Opioid withdrawal in adults: Clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis. Updated: April 2017.