calming and soothing effect. Narcotic agents have particular application in the relief of
continuous, dull pain. Consequently, these drugs are widely used in patients who are
b. Antitussive Effect. An antitussive agent acts to control or prevent cough.
Some narcotics will depress the cough center of the brain and produce this antitussive
effect. In general, the antitussive dose of a narcotic is lower than the analgesic dose of
that same drug. Before progressing, it should be noted that a narcotic is not indicated
for all types of coughs. Indeed, sometimes it is useful for a patient to cough in order to
remove substances from the lungs.
c. Mood Alteration Effect. Some narcotics will produce a mood alteration in
patients. The types of mood changes can be classified in two categories.
(1) Dysphoria. Dysphoria is a mood alteration characterized by feelings of
anxiety, fidgetiness, or being ill at ease.
Euphoria. Euphoria is characterized by an exaggerated feeling of well-
d. Gastrointestinal Effect. Narcotics produce some significant effects upon the
gastrointestinal system (that is, stomach and intestines). Some narcotics are used
specifically for their effect upon this system of the body.
(1) Decrease gastrointestinal motility. Narcotics decrease the peristaltic
(wavelike) movements of the gastrointestinal tract. Consequently, they may cause
constipation. This effect of narcotics is the basis of their being used to treat diarrhea.
When used to treat diarrhea, the agents are referred to as antidiarrheals.
(2) Stimulate the chemoreceptor trigger zone. The chemoreceptor trigger
zone (CTZ) is located at the base of the brain. When stimulated, the CTZ produces
nausea and vomiting. Like many other categories of drugs, narcotics can stimulate the
chemoreceptor trigger zone and cause nausea and vomiting.
e. Respiratory System Effect. Narcotics cause respiratory system depression
because they reduce the sensitivity of the medullary centers to carbon dioxide in the
blood. This depression of the respiratory system usually occurs at higher narcotic
11-4. SIDE EFFECTS OF NARCOTICS
Side effects are frequently seen with the use of narcotics. Some of these side
effects are characteristics of the narcotic agents.