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Morbid physiologic or psychologic craving for narcotics to avoid painful stimuli.



narcotic addiction; a disease in which the body’s life processes are maintained at a certain level only through the constant use of narcotics, resulting in deep psychological and physical exhaustion.

Withdrawal, the abrupt discontinuance of the use of a narcotic, disrupts many bodily functions. In nafcomania one of the visible symptoms—the one for which the disease is named—is the uncontrollable craving for the euphoria that is achieved by taking narcotics. As the disease progresses, the capacity of the narcotic to elicit euphoric sensations (the narcotic’s potency) diminishes, and the craving is due solely to the need for the narcotic, which has become the essential requirement for the maintenance of a relatively satisfactory physical and mental state.

In mononarcomanias (morphinism, heroinism, codeinism, ha-shishism, cocainism, alcoholism, and others), there is a predilection for one particular narcotic. In polynarcomanias a combination of several drugs, for example, opium-barbiturate, opium-glutethimide, alcohol-barbiturate, opium-alcohol, is preferred. Polynarcomania usually proceeds from mononarco-mania. As the euphoric sensations of one narcotic weaken, the addict begins to add other drugs to satisfy the craving for euphoria. Constant narcotic intoxication results in the disturbance of many organs and bodily systems, the specific ones affected being determined by the type of narcotic used. The effects are particularly severe in the case of polynarcomanias. Thus, a victim of narcomania gradually becomes incapable of working even if the maintenance dose of a narcotic is regularly taken. However, the victim’s condition could be considered satisfactory when compared with what his condition would be if he were undergoing withdrawal.

Since narcomania is associated with the euphoric, pleasantly numbing or stimulating effect of a narcotic, substances that do not produce euphoria are not abused and are not addictive. The more pronounced the euphoric effect of a substance, the sooner habituation sets in. The decisive factor in the development of narcomania is the failure’ to understand the danger in taking narcotics. Narcomania may develop in young people as a result of “experimentation,” or imprudent curiosity. It may also be brought about by the use of narcotics as pain relievers or sleep inducers. Extreme caution is needed when prescribing narcotics for patients with neuroses, psychopathies, or alcoholism.

The danger of susceptibility to narcomania is greater among emotionally unstable persons who cannot control their impulses, who are mentally immature, or who reject general social standards. An improper upbringing, the bad example and pressure of an unhealthy peer group, the lack of intellectual and positive social attitudes, and inadequate education all contribute to the spread of narcomania. The lack of strict control over the production and consumption of narcotics and the existence of the black market play a particularly important role with respect to the spread of narcomania in society.

Narcomania is widespread in some capitalist countries, the United States in particular. In a message to Congress on Mar. 28, 1973, President Nixon said: “Drug addiction is one of the most vicious and corrosive forces attacking the foundation of American society today . . . And the total number of Americans addicted to narcotics, suffering terribly themselves and inflicting their suffering on countless others, still stands in the hundreds of thousands.”

In all societies, including primitive ones, a moral prohibition was placed on the abuse of narcotics. As governments became established, the struggle was initiated against illegal narcotic production, distribution, and traffic, because narcomania harms not only the victim but also the society as a whole. The addict is excluded from productive activity because he has become physically and mentally disabled and his interests are concentrated on only one thing—how to secure the next dose. The steadily increasing psychological impairment and the social conflict (including the necessity of lying and illegally procuring the narcotic) in which the addict finds himself result both in deep moral degradation of the personality and in criminal behavior.

Soviet criminal law specifies criminal responsibility for those who distribute narcotics or who are engaged in other activities that contribute to the spread of narcotics use. Individuals suffering from narcomania may have to submit to medical treatment, as well as face legal action. Specifically, if narcotics addicts commit crimes, they will both receive criminal sentencing and undergo compulsory medical treatment, either at the place in which they serve their sentence or in a special institution. Narcomaniacs may also be deemed incompetent by a court and placed under guardianship.