The vast majority of patients with incurable diseases need relief from pain and other symptoms that accompany the last days of life. Worldwide, narcotic drugs are used to improve the condition of terminal (dying) patients. The list of these drugs is limited, but research is continually being conducted, which may result in the appearance of new drugs in medical practice.
The main drugs used in palliative medicine and officially authorized in different countries are opioid analgesics. For many centuries, opium was extracted from the dried-up milky juice of unripe poppy seed pods. In 1803, the German pharmacist Friedrich Zerturner isolated morphine from opium. It is this substance that determines the essential characteristics of opium. So far, morphine is used as one of the best drugs that eliminate the pain from injuries, myocardial infarction, and cancer patients. Till now researches of its analogs are conducted to reveal the most “successful” versions of this drug. In particular, the World Health Organization currently recognizes fast acting morphine pills as the gold standard for terminal patients.
Some countries allow the use of drugs based on cannabinoids to improve the condition of patients who need palliative care (Germany, Denmark, Canada, some US states). Hemp-based drugs are used to relieve chronic pain, improve appetite, and relieve nausea.
Hemp for medical purposes has been used for hundreds of years to eliminate various types of pain, including colic, menstrual pain, and migraine. Studies have shown that cannabinoid drugs used in capsules can alleviate chronic pain but are not very useful for acute illnesses (for example, surgical).
Cannabinoids can also enhance the analgesic effect of opioids, but this effect has not yet been used in medical practice. In addition to chronic pain, nausea and vomiting caused by the underlying disease or treatment are often a problem for terminal patients. Many researchers have noticed that cannabinoid-based drugs have a more pronounced antiemetic effect compared to standard medications.
Currently, some scientists continue to investigate the effect of psychedelic drugs on the emotional state of terminal patients. The American psychiatrist Charles Coffin studied the influence of psilocybin (a substance found in mushrooms of the Psilocybe genus) on the well-being of patients in the later stages of cancer. As a result of this treatment, the researcher noted a decrease in anxiety and a better mood, which greatly facilitated the last days of such patients.
Around the world, only a few doctors do the same. For example, British doctors tried to explain this effect of the drug, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The fact is that a change in consciousness against the background of psilocybin intake is associated with the deactivation of those areas of the brain that are responsible for feelings and perception. In depressed people, one of these areas (anterior cingulate cortex) is hyperactive. Psilocybin can change this.
Such an effect of the drug can be explained in the following way: patients who participated in the study received psilocybin regularly, and it is likely that from time to time they experienced positive emotions when recalling good memories, which made this effect sustainable.
Even though opioids are recognized as the only group of drugs capable of relieving terminal patients from severe chronic pain, access to them is challenging in some countries. One of the most critical problems of palliative medicine is a complicated procedure for recording and trafficking in narcotic drugs. It leads to the fact that terminal patients do not receive anesthesia in time, accept it in insufficient quantities or do not receive it at all. Relatives of such patients must repeatedly bypass specialists of different levels who permit to obtain the drug. Doctors, in turn, fill out a lot of paperwork.
Meanwhile, research on various groups of drugs that are likely to help patients in the terminal stages of the disease continues. It is possible that hallucinogens will appear in the West in a comprehensive medical practice soon.
Narcotic Drugs in Pharmacies
Some people do not even suspect that some types of drugs are sold directly at the pharmacy. In a certain amount and under specific conditions, some of them will have the same effect as illicit drugs. Moreover, it is much more difficult to treat a drug addict from pharmaceutical drugs than from the prohibited ones.
Types of drugs in pharmacies:
• prescription drugs;
• non-prescription drugs;
• drugs of strict accountability.
Such drugs are not necessarily harmful. They can help the patient but if used correctly. For them to have a narcotic effect, they must be used in large doses.
Types of Narcotic Drugs in Pharmacies
1. Tropicamide is a psychostimulant that alters consciousness. In medicine, it comes in the form of eye drops (they dilate the pupils). Drug addicts use Tropicamide for intravenous injection: after the infusion, they experience a charge of strength, vigor, and confidence. The drug is dangerous because it causes rapid psychological addiction. At the initial stage, the addict suffers from depression. Over time, hair begins to fall out, and teeth and bone tissue are destroyed.
2. Codeine-containing drugs. Codeine is a synthetic analog of morphine as they have a similar effect: a drug addict feels a surge of strength and energy, a feeling of relaxation. Codeine addiction immediately affects the mental and physical state of a person.
3. Addicts use coaxial (antidepressant) by intravenous injection. This drug cannot be diluted in water, small solid particles enter the vein, leading to oxygen starvation and thrombosis.
4. Tramadol, used in large doses, can cause intense hallucinations and changes in consciousness. If you do not stop taking it, then after a month or two it will be addictive, and it will be complicated to refuse the drug.
5. Terpinkodum is a cough medicine containing codeine. Terpinkod causes healthy physical and mental dependence if overused.
6. Dangerous hypnotics and tranquilizers. These drugs cause dependence slowly, but after some time a person can no longer refuse them. Sleeping pills can cause an overdose, resulting in death. Often they are taken by drug addicts who have stopped using heroin.
By themselves, narcotic drugs are neither good nor evil. They are the only way of survival for some patients and become evil only in the hands of people who do not know how to limit their use. That is why the law regulates the sphere of use of such drugs.