Many people believe that opiates are a less dangerous drug, but that is simply not the case. Misuse of prescription opiates and using illegal opiates puts you at risk for many complications and addiction. Make sure to know the symptoms of opiate use, abuse, overdose and withdrawal.

What is an Opiate?

There are three types of opiates: naturally occurring, semi-synthetic and synthetic. Natural opiates are morphine and codeine and come from the poppy. Morphine and codeine are narcotics usually used for pain management. Semi-synthetic opiates include heroin, meperidine and oxycodone. Synthetic opiates include fentanyl, methadone and pentazocine. All opiates are addictive, but some are more so than others. For example, heroin is the most addictive, while codeine is one of the least addictive of the opiates. Some opiates, such as morphine and codeine are legal and used for strong pain prescription medications. However, some opiates, including heroin are illegal. Opiates can be smoked, snorted, injected or ingested in pill form.

What is the History of Opiates?

Opiates are not a new drug; they have been used for thousands of years. They believe to become popular due to their euphoric feeling, but as they also proved as a medication for pain. Recently, they have become popular in the United Sates because people believe they are less dangerous than other drugs. However, when abused, no drug is safe.

What are the Effects of Opiates?

The official use of opiates is to relieve pain, and they really do work to help block pain. Morphine is used in hospitals to help with patients in severe pain, like after surgery. Codeine is often prescribed to help deal with moderate pain. Euphoria is another common effect of opiate use. This euphoric feeling makes you feel happy and light, which is a major factor in why people abuse and overuse opiates. However, there are also negative effects associated with opiates. These side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, heavy extremities, dilated pupils, constipation, fatigue and confusion. These effects are short-term, but they occur after only a single dose of opiates.
Short-term use of prescription opiates is normal and safe. They help you deal with pain after surgery or other procedures. However, there are some instances where taking opiates is never safe. Do not take any opiates if you are pregnant. Opiates can lead to serious effects on your unborn baby, including death. In addition, using unclean needles with opiate use increases your risk of hepatitis and HIV/AIDs which affects you and your unborn baby. Never drink alcohol with opiates as it can cause serious negative side effects and increase your drowsiness.

What are the Symptoms of Opiate Abuse?

Opiates have a risk of becoming dependent. If you abuse opiates, you can become both physically and psychologically dependent on them. The longer you use opiates, the more dependent you become. It becomes increasingly harder to get high, making you take more and more. This leads to addiction because you are unable to function without having opiates in your system. This can happen quickly, in just a few short weeks. Long use of opiates affects your cognitive abilities and mental reasoning. If you believe someone you know is addicted to opiates, make sure to look for the symptoms associated with opiate abuse, they include physical and behavioral symptoms. Opiate abuse symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Focusing on the drug
  • Taking more of the drug
  • Trying to find more of the drug
  • Withdrawal from social interactions
  • Weight loss
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Keeping secrets and lying
  • Mental impairment
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Leg spasms

In addition to these symptoms, there are some negative risks associated with opiate abuse. Some are short-term and less dangerous, but some are long-term, dangerous and can lead to serious complications or even death. Common risks associated with opiate abuse include:
Infection – many people inject opiates into their bloodstream to get high faster. These leads to infections caused by unclean needles. Infections include HIV, AIDS and hepatitis.
Heart damage – Medications often contain inactive ingredients to help them stick together. When taken orally, there is no risk, but when injected, these ingredients go into your blood stream and affect your heart and heart valves. This causes infection, inflammation, heart failure and even death.
Mental – People addicted to drugs do not worry about themselves, others or their future. They simply worry about getting their next fix. This causes them to be unable to think clearly and leads to depression. Some evidence even shows that cognitive impairment is long-term and affects their entire lives.

Opiate abuse is dangerous. It has serious negative side effects and leads to major complications, including infection, heart damage and death. Opiate abuse also puts you at a greater risk for opiate overdose as you try to get high.

What are the Symptoms of Opiate Overdose?

As with any drug, opiates carry a risk of overdose. While prescription medications are safe if taken as prescribed, taking too much illegal or legal opiates leads to an overdose. If left untreated, an overdose can lead to death. Symptoms of opiate overdose include:

  • Respiratory depression or slow, shallow breathing
  • Delirium
  • Increased heart rate
  • Inability to urinate
  • Decrease in body temperature
  • Hypoxia

Some of these are actual side effects of using opiates, but it is important to take them seriously, especially if you suspect the person is addicted to opiates or has taken too many.

What are the Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal?

Opiate withdrawal occurs when the addict has stopped taking opiates or drastically reduced how much they normally use. This usually only occurs after prolonged use. These symptoms occur because the individual relies on the drug both mentally and physically. These withdrawal symptoms are actually your body recovering from the discontinued use. Even people who take prescription opiates for a few weeks but do not abuse them may experience these symptoms of opiate withdrawal. Many symptoms are similar to flu symptoms. Common opiate withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Runny Nose
  • Sweating
  • Muscle pain
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Withdrawal symptoms usually occur in addicts who have not taken the drug in anywhere between twelve and seventy-two hours. Opiate withdrawal is extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant. However, it is usually not life threatening. The withdrawal can last up to a week, making life uncomfortable and unpleased.

What is the Treatment for Opiate Abuse?

Opiate abuse treatment is needed to help keep people from relapsing and becoming addicted to opiate again. During withdrawal, methadone is often used to help ease off opiates and reduce the negative side effects. However, treatment is more about therapy and stress management. Therapy can be used to reward people for reduced opiate use, and it is also used to help deal with why the individual became addicted. Addiction usually has an underlying cause, and therapy helps bring it to the surface and deal with it to avoid future addictions. In addition, therapy helps teach you new ways of managing stress. Instead of turning to opiates for stress relief, you come up with healthy alternatives, including exercise, yoga, meditation, massage and many other stress relievers. With proper treatment, you are able to become independent again and not rely on opiates or any drug.
Opiate addiction is as a serious matter. It is easy to become physical and mentally dependent on this drug, even if you are taking a legal prescription medication. Withdrawal symptoms are not deadly but they are unpleasant. Misusing opiates of any kind can lead to serious complications, addiction and even death. If you or someone you love is addicted to opiates, treatment does exist and can help you regain your life. For more information regarding opiate drugs, addiction and treatment, please contact one of our highly skilled professionals today.