Narcotic

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The term narcotic (pronounced /nɑrˈkɒtɨk/) originally referred medically to any psychoactive compound with sleep-inducing properties. In the United States of America it has since become associated with opioids, commonly morphine and heroin. The term is, today, imprecisely defined and typically has negative connotations.[1] When used in a legal context in the US, a narcotic drug is simply one that is totally prohibited, or one that is used in violation of strict governmental regulation, such as PCP or marijuana. From a pharmacological standpoint it is not a useful term.[2]

Contents

History

The term "narcotic" 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).[3] seeds, and poppy juice (opium) as the chief examples.[4][5] “Narcotic” is a term derived from the Greek word narke, meaning "stupor". It originally referred to any substance that relieved pain, dulled the senses, or induced sleep.[6] Now, the term is used in a number of ways. Some people define narcotics as substances that bind at opioid 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.[7] Though in U.S. law, due to its numbing properties, cocaine is also considered a narcotic.

See also

References

External links

  • Pharmer.org 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

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