Is Fioricet Considered a Narcotic?

What is a Narcotic?

Before exploring if Fioricet is a narcotic, what is a narcotic? The term narcotic was at one point in history used to refer to any psychoactive substance that tended to induce sleep, but currently, in the U.S., it’s primarily associated with opioids including heroin, as well as prescription painkillers. When you’re looking at the term narcotic in the legal sense, people often associate it with illegal drugs like heroin, but a narcotic can also be used to describe controlled substances such as painkillers that are regulated but available by prescription.

Opioids are technically categorized under the term narcotic.  However, due to the negative association the term narcotic has with illegal drugs, it has fallen out of use in medical settings. The narcotic definition pertains to an agent that produces insensibility or narcosis.  When thinking about these terms broadly, you can think of opiates as being a subclass of opioids, and opioids as a subclass of narcotics.

No matter what the medication is classified as or how it was created, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider before taking any drug, prescription or not. Your pharmacist can also be a valuable resource when trying to identify what class the medication is considered and whether the medication has any potential drug-on-drug interactions.

In the U.S. there are classifications for various narcotics that define the penalties for possessing the illegally, including without a prescription. So, is Fioricet a narcotic?

Fioricet Ingredients

In regular Fioricet there are three primary, active ingredients These are butalbital, which is a barbiturate, acetaminophen which is a painkiller available over-the-counter, and caffeine.
Acetaminophen
Butalbital
Caffenine
These three ingredients Butalbital APAP Caffeine are meant to work together to relieve headache pain and similar symptoms. When considering whether Fioricet is a narcotic, the primary ingredient to look at is the butalbital, because the other two ingredients would never be considered narcotics.
Butalbital is a barbiturate with an intermediate duration of action, and it’s FDA approved for the use as a treatment for tension headaches. Despite its effectiveness in treating headaches, particularly of the tension variety, it’s not the first option.
Butalbital can cause problems with alertness, and there’s the risk for dependence and addiction. Some people describe the effects of Fioricet as making them feel drunk.

Legally in the U.S., barbiturates of all kinds are Schedule IV. Features of Schedule IV drugs according to the United States Controlled Substance Act include:

  • There is a relatively low potential for abuse compared to substances that are classified as Schedule III
  • The substance has a currently accepted medical use in the U.S.
  • With abuse of a Schedule IV drug, there is a limited potential that physical or psychological dependence could occur

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