Opiates and Opiods Abuse and Addiction
Opiates belong to a group of drugs called opiods, which can be both natural and synthetic, found in the resin of the seedpod of Papaver somniferum, commonly known as the Asian poppy.
This resin produces opium, and codeine and morphine are derived from this. Drugs such as heroin are processed from morphine or codeine. These are known as the natural opiates, and apart from heroin, have been used for centuries to medically relive pain.
Synthetic opiates include Demerol and methadone and were initially developed as non-addictive painkillers. Nowadays it has been medically proved that all opiates can cause some degree of dependency.
Although, it is important to note, that when prescribed and controlled by a doctor, morphine and codeine are very effective and safe analgesics.
Taking Opiates - Effects Long and Short
Opiates work by activating opiate receptors in the brain controlling pleasure and pain relief, which is why they can have a sedative effect, calming down the user and altering their feelings toward pain.
If the drugs are abused and taken in larger and regular quantities more and more is needed to bring on the same effect, as the body becomes more tolerant.
Of all the opiates, heroin penetrates the brain far quicker hence bringing on effects quicker and why many addicts prefer the drug.
In its rawest form opium can be a dark brown chunk of resin, or a powered, which is usually eaten or smoked. It is interesting to note though, that many street preparations of heroin contain very little opium, usually diluted with other drugs, glucose or even talcum powder.
Abusers usually inject opiates into a muscle or vein, but they can be sniffed, swallowed or taken rectally.
Licensed opiate painkillers are usually tablets, capsules, syrups, indictable liquids or suppositories.
As with every drug, its effects depend on the person and how much has been taken. Under prescribed conditions and taken for pain relief, they can relax the body and cause drowsiness. Nausea and vomiting can be quite common. However, because the conditions under which they were taken were controlled, the side effects are short lived.
In larger doses, the user goes into an alternately agitated and drowsy state, the pupils contract to pin points and the skin goes cold and blue. Breathing could slow down to such an extent that death could occur.
Long-term use of injecting opiates could lead to heart problems as the valves become infected from unsterile needles, vein collapse and obviously there is the threat of HIV and hepatitis from using unclean equipment.
Other long-term effects include confusion, weight loss, liver problems and possible brain damage.
So for some they can be a wonder drug, helping people cope with serious illnesses. To others they can start out as wonderful but end up powerfully addictive.