Narcotics Use in Fibromyalgia

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A narcotic is a drug derived from the opium poppy or a synthetic form of an opium-derived drug. Narcotics have powerful pain-killing (analgesic) effects. They also cause dulled senses and deep sleep when used in moderation. At higher doses, they can lead to coma, convulsions, and death.

Narcotics also are associated with significant changes in mood and behavior, and they're potentially addictive.

With Prolonged Use

With prolonged use, many people develop a tolerance for them, meaning they need more of the drug to get the same benefit. This can especially lead to problems when narcotics are used to treat chronic pain rather than acute (short-term) pain.

For those reasons, narcotics are considered controlled substances in the United States and many other countries. Narcotics abuse and overdose is a significant medical, social, and law-enforcement problem.

Regulatory agencies' attempts to lessen the problem of narcotic abuse and misuse have made it difficult for many legitimate pain patients to get these medications. Patients using them for chronic pain may be asked to sign pain contracts with their doctors, required to undergo periodic drug tests to look for signs of abuse, or even denied access to narcotics altogether.


  • Vicodin (which contains the narcotic hydrocodone plus acetaminophen)
  • OxyContin, Percocet (which contain the narcotic oxycodone plus acetaminophen)
  • Duragesic (which contains the narcotic fentanyl)

The term "opiate" is technically used for the drugs derived from the plant, while "opioid" is used for the synthetic versions. However, in common usage, "opiate" has come to mean either form.

Narcotics for Fibromyalgia

Narcotics are frequently prescribed for fibromyalgia. It's common to read statements about how they're often ineffective against the unique pain of this condition, but many doctors and patients have found otherwise. Still, they are far from universally effective.

Many doctors hesitate or refuse to prescribe narcotics for fibromyalgia because of the risk involved combined with the chronic nature of the condition and the belief that they're ineffective. (Those risks can be both medical and legal, as doctors can face legal charges and loss of license if they're found to over-prescribe narcotics.)

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