To help someone quit opiates, you need to understand the mechanics of addiction. We cover the basics here. ...
Comprehensive guide to illicit drug use, abuse, and addiction. Scientific guides to the most used and dangerous drug people use today.
Opiates are derived from the dried "milk" of the opium poppy. Why do people use opiates and what are their effects? A basic intro to the drug class of opiates and opioids here.
What are opiates?In medical classification, the group of drugs called "opiates" includes any narcotic opioid alkaloid found as a natural product of the opium poppy plant (lat. papaver somniferum). Opiates are derived from the dried "milk" of the opium poppy. Synthetic opiates, on the other hand, are manufactured in chemical labs, and are more properly classified along with semi-synthetic drugs under the broader term "opioids". Some of the most common opiates, both natural and synthetic, are known under these generic names:
Why do people use opiates?Medically, opiates are used for their analgesic or pain-relieving properties. They work by attaching to specific receptors in the brain, the spinal cord and the gastrointestinal tract and blocking the transmission of pain messages to the brain. Common routes of opiate administration for medical purposes include:
- muscular injection
- subcutaneous injection
- transdermal (absorbed through the skin)
- sublingual and buccal (between teeth and the cheeks' mucous membrane)
- intraspinal (epidural and intreathecal) injection
Opiates' effectsOpiates are sedating painkillers that depress the central nervous system (CNS), slow down the normal functions of the body, and reduce physical and psychological pain. While taken in smaller doses, opiates cause a person to become talkative, full or energy and confidence; in larger doses they can create a state of trance. The effects of opiate drugs usually peak in one or two hours of initial intake and can last up to six hours. Symptoms opiates tend to produce include:
- depressed breathing reflexes
- depressed coughing reflexes
- nausea and vomiting
- reduced heart rate
- shallow breathing
- a widening of blood vessels
- loss of sex drive
- menstrual cycle irregularities
- mental impairment
- skin, heart and lung infections
Are opiates addictive?Yes, opiate drugs are highly addictive. Opiate users develop tolerance to the prescribed doses after daily use of more than a few weeks, so they start taking more and more to achieve the desired "high". This phenomenon of "tolerance" is expected, but when does opiate addiction occur? Opiate addiction occurs in users who become psychologically dependent on opiates in order to resolve psychological or emotional issues. Addicted users begin to obsess over opiates, constantly thinking about obtaining and using; some even engage themselves in illegal activities to obtain and use opiates. When this happens, structured opiate addiction treatment is required to help individuals recover from their addiction and rebuild a substance free life. Opiate rehab treatment begins with an assessment of the physical and psychological condition of a person, then opiate detox to eliminate all traces of the drug from the system, followed by psychological and behavioral therapies. Physical dependence is often present in people addicted to opiates. Opiate withdrawal can be exceptionally uncomfortable and withdrawal symptoms can last from one week up to one month. However, the main characteristic of an opiate addict is the continued use of opiates, despite negative life consequences resulting from use.
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