Narcotic Drugs

In severe cases of pain, narcotics may be prescribed. These are strong and potentially addictive drugs. They should be given only by a doctor.

Commonly prescribed narcotic pain medications include:

  • Codeine (Tylenol 3®)
  • Propoxyphene (Darvocet®)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
  • Oxycodone (Percocet®, Oxycontin®)

Narcotics are most effective in treating pain when used for a short time - up to two weeks. After that, the body quickly builds up a natural tolerance to the drug, and the drug becomes less effective.

Narcotics have several major side effects and potential risks, including:

  • Impairment of mental function and drowsiness
  • Significant constipation
  • Addiction
  • Depression

Narcotic drugs should never be taken when drinking alcoholic beverages because the interaction could be potentially fatal. Narcotic drugs are often combined with acetaminophen, so additional acetaminophen (Tylenol®)should not be taken in order to avoid an overdose.

It is important for your doctor to monitor you while taking these drugs. Be sure to report any unusual symptoms to your doctor right away.

To learn more about these and other drugs and their side effects, go to Medline Plus drug information.