Narcotic: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

19th century Heroin bottle

The term narcotic (när-kŏt'ĭk) strictly refers to any psychoactive compound with morphine-like effects.



It is believed to have been coined by the Greek physician Galen to refer to agents that numb or deaden, causing loss of feeling or paralysis. It is based on the Greek word ναρκωσις (narcosis), the term used by Hippocrates for the process of numbing or the numbed state. Galen listed mandrake root, altercus (eclata)[1] seeds, and poppy juice (opium) as the chief examples.[2][3] “Narcotic” is a term derived from the Greek word for stupor. It originally referred to a variety of substances that relieved pain and dulled the senses. Now, the term is used in a number of ways. Some people define narcotics as substances that bind at opiate receptors (cellular membrane proteins activated by substances like heroin or morphine) while others refer to any illicit substance as a narcotic. From a legal perspective, narcotic refers to opium, opium derivatives, and their semi-synthetic substitutes. [4]


United Nations

A looser usage of the word "narcotic" to refer to any illegal or unlawfully possessed drug including marijuana and cocaine is common worldwide, although these substances are not considered narcotics in a medical or scientific context. The central drug policy making body within the United Nations, for instance, is the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, although the United Nations officially defines a narcotic drug to be "any of the substances, natural or synthetic, in Schedules I and II of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, and that Convention as amended by the 1972 Protocol Amending the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961"[5] Used in this manner the word "narcotic" is a useful if not wholly accurate label to denote any drug that is subject to the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, or similar legislation elsewhere.

United States

In a U.S. legal context, the term "narcotic" specifically refers to opium, opium derivatives, and their semi-synthetic or fully synthetic substitutes, as well as cocaine and coca leaves.

Because the term is often used so broadly or pejoratively outside of medical contexts, most medical professionals advocate the use of more precise terms such as "opioids" and "opioid analgesics" to refer to the natural, semi-synthetic, and synthetic substances that behave pharmacologically like morphine and are used primarily for their pain-relieving qualities.[6]

See also


  1. ^ J. Richard Stracke. The Laud Herbal Glossary. Retrieved 2007-06-10. 
  2. ^ Francis Edmund Anstie (1865). id=AWpxJREw_IAC&pg=PA152&lpg=PA152&dq=hippocrates+narcosis&source=web&ots=J-U_nNoTAe&sig=K2wgALcWxqJkSBqCxSp2OpBOs90#PPA153,M1 Stimulants and Narcotics: their mutual relations. id=AWpxJREw_IAC&pg=PA152&lpg=PA152&dq=hippocrates+narcosis&source=web&ots=J-U_nNoTAe&sig=K2wgALcWxqJkSBqCxSp2OpBOs90#PPA153,M1. Retrieved 2007-06-10. 
  3. ^ "De Furore, cap VI" (in Latin). 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Convention against the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988. Article I: Definitions
  6. '^ Mangione MP, Crowley-Matoka M. "Improving pain management communication: how patients understand the terms 'opioid' and 'narcotic'." Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2008 Sep;23(9):1336-8. PMID 18516649

External links

  • A non-profit site providing detailed descriptions of most narcotic analgesics
  • List of drugs, some of which are classified as "narcotics," in the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Not all of the classified ones are chemically narcotic, as described on the top of this page

Simple English

A narcotic is a drug that causes a loss of feeling, or paralysis. The name narcotic was probably first used by the Greek physician Galen. Galen listed mandrake root or poppy juice among the main examples for such substances.[1][2]

Today, the word narcotic is mainly used for illegal drugs, which do not necessarily have these properties. Marijuana and Cocaine are considered to be narcotics, even they do not have the medical properties described.


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