Narcotics (opioids) are a family of medications that includes codeine, fentanyl, oxycodone, tramadol, morphine, pethidine and heroin. Narcotics were originally made from opium poppies. Some narcotics are still made from poppies, while others are made in a laboratory.
Narcotics are useful for short term pain – like the pain for the first few days after an operation, or on the worst day of a period. When used in this way, they rarely cause problems. They are a normal part of the care provided in a hospital after an operation and usually stopped within a few days.
Narcotics should be avoided for long term pain – like back or pelvic pain that has been present for weeks, months or even more. This is when they cause problems.