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The History & Dangers Opium Addiction

Chances are that you have heard about the prescription drug epidemic that has led to countless senseless deaths throughout the nation. Most of these deadly painkillers are opiates, such as hydromorphone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine. All of these, including heroin, can all be traced back to the production of the opium poppy itself.

What is Opium?

Opium is a highly addictive narcotic drug. It is made from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) seedpods, in a dried latex form. When the pod is not ripe yet, it is slit open to let the sap seep out. The sap is left to dry on the outer surface of the pod. The result of this is yellow-brown latex. This bitter substance contains varying amounts of alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine, codeine and morphine.

Opium Addiction

A Little History about Opium

The use of opium has a very long history and dates back all the way to the New Stone age (also known as the Neolithic age). Throughout history, it has always been used as a highly effective painkiller. Most of the modern analgesic drugs are a derivative of the opium poppy. Though it has long been used for medicinal purposes, there is also extensive history with people struggling with opium addiction.

One of the Countries most often associated with the use of opium is China. Until the late 17thcentury, the Chinese did not know that this was such a highly addictive substance. Around that time, more than 33 percent of all Chinese males regularly smoked opium, meaning that a large percentage of people actually struggled with opium addiction without realizing just how dangerous the substance was. Even once the addictive qualities of the drug became known, most people continued to use it; despite the fact that they knew that there were negative consequences associated with the continued use.

How Opium Works

The most important chemical that we can find in opium is morphine. This chemical is primarily responsible for the many effects that people equate with opium use. Morphine is an alkaloid. This means that it has a number of different basic nitrogen atoms. The reason that people experience feelings of well-being and a decrease in pain when taking this substance is because of the neurotransmitter dopamine. The reason that morphine provides those pleasurable sensations is because it can mimic the effects of endorphins. This is also the primary reason that people become dependent on opium, because the result of taking the drug is highly pleasurable.How Opium Works Just a few of the sensations that users may experience include euphoria, a lack of inhibitions, the short-term relief from pain and discomfort, a pleasurable dreaminess state, feelings of relaxation and warmth, and an overall feeling of well-being.

The reason that continued use can be so addictive is that it allows whoever uses the drug to forget about any discomfort or issues for a short while. Because the experience itself is so pleasurable, most users will want to recreate it over and over again. Unfortunately, for those users, the development of physiological and physical opium addiction does not take very long.

Increased Tolerance

One of the issues with opium addiction is the fact that the body quickly adapts to having it in our system. As a result, the body develops a tolerance for it. This tolerance means that the user is going to need to ingest more and more of the same drug in order to experience the same pleasurable sensations as before. As the user takes in more and more, it eventually increases the danger of a possible overdose. Because opium depresses the central nervous system, it may lead to dangerous issues such as shallow breathing or the heart just stops beating altogether.

Symptoms of Continued Use

It is important to remember that these symptoms are not necessarily indicative of opium dependence. Despite the fact that these symptoms highlight the fact that there is something amiss, many of the opium-based drugs share many of the same issues.

A few of the most common symptoms of continued use may include:

  • Rapid mood changes
  • Difficulty with handling any type of stress
  • Personality changes
  • Failure to meet family and social commitments
  • Persistent cough
  • Secretive behavior
  • Money problems
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Signs of depression
  • Loss of interest in personal appearance
  • Frequent red eyes

Opium Withdrawal Symptoms

If the user no longer ingests the desired substance, the chemical changes in the body can lead to a number of different withdrawal symptoms. The longer the user is dependent on the substance, the more likely it is that the withdrawal symptoms become severe. Most patients who end up relapsing do so because of the withdrawal symptoms. They no longer want to deal with the discomfort of not using the drug.

A few of the common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Twitching
  • Fever
  • Aching bones or muscles
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Bone pain
  • Cramping of the stomach
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

During the first two days, the withdrawal symptoms are most often mild. Between the third and fifth day, the symptoms are going to be at their most severe. In some cases, the symptoms may be severe enough to where they require medical intervention. This is another reason that opium treatment is imperative, primarily because the medical staff present at a quality opium rehab can help provide medication to ease specific withdrawal symptoms.

Available Treatment Solutions

Because of the withdrawal symptoms and addictive properties of the drug, opium addiction treatment is highly recommended and essential for most people who struggle with a dependence on this dangerous substance. Without proper opium treatment, the user runs the risk of relapsing; which would be even more dangerous if the person has not ingested the drug for any length of time and thus lost their physical tolerance. Oftentimes, people struggling with addiction feel as though they are caught in quicksand. They try their hardest to escape, only to find that they are drawn in even deeper than before. Professional opium rehab is capable of offering professional guidance that can help a user avoid the dreaded relapse.

It is also important that the user be given a long-term treatment plan on how to deal with their addiction. This is a vital step in any opium addiction treatment. Especially because without the blueprint on how to overcome dependence and avoid these issues in the future, chances are that the user is only temporarily sober. If you believe that you or someone that you care about is struggling with opium addiction, it is important that you call immediately. Understand that without long-term, inpatient treatment, the risk of a fatal overdose increases with each continued day of use.