Opium addiction results when a person abuses this substance and experiences the urge to continue abusing it despite any negative consequences. Addiction to opium can also lead to mild withdrawal symptoms or become a gateway for addiction to more potent opioids.
Although Opium has been abused for centuries, it is often overlooked in terms of abuse rates because other, more potent drugs of abuse receive most attention and recovery efforts.
However, Opium is still abused worldwide and can lead to many adverse effects, including opioid addiction. Treatment for Opium addiction can help individuals stop the use of this substance, seek relief from withdrawal, and manage in recovery.
What Is Opium?
Opium is a plant grown all over the world. It is the base plant from which most chemical opioid components are derived, such as morphine, thebaine, and codeine.
Harvesting Opium is a long process, but once done Opium produces either edible cakes or chemicals which can be used in producing either illicit or licit products.
Because Opium is grown all over the world and easily cultivated, it is not as regulated as it should be, making abuse of it easy and ready at hand.
Opium itself is not a dangerous drug of abuse (though it can lead to addiction). However, Opium is the base of many potent opioid drugs.
Opium Methods Of Abuse
Opium may be eaten, smoked, or drank. While the drug has a bitter taste when consumed raw, it is still used in this way.
Opium is used more to harvest for its chemical components, which is why it is a dangerous substance of abuse.
While Opium, when consumed, is not considered a dangerous drug of abuse, its chemical derivatives can be used in much more potent drugs.
How Do People Become Addicted To Opium?
Opium belongs to the opioid family, meaning it produces body-relaxing effects when consumed. In fact, Opium has been used for millennia and became the main chemical component for many opioids.
Unfortunately, the addictive potential of drugs made from opium was not recognized until the 20th century.
Opioids work by changing how a person’s body and brain respond to pain, which is why they are used in so many pain-relieving medications.
As a person abuses opioids, their brain structure changes, forming a reliance on the drugs to produce the effects it the brain once naturally produced.
To add to addiction, a person can also become physically dependent on opioids, meaning they experience painful withdrawal symptoms when not using the drugs.
Signs And Symptoms Of An Opium Addiction
Opium addiction may not be as common in the United States as addictions to other drugs, but the drug is still abused and may result in addiction.
Signs and symptoms of an opium addiction can include:
- forming a tolerance, or no longer being able to feel the effects of Opium when taking the usual dose
- experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using Opium, such as headache, nausea, or muscle or bone pain
- finding paraphernalia from smoking or eating
- unusual behavior
- lying or becoming secretive to hide substance use
- distancing from friends or family
Side Effects Of Opium Abuse
Opium side effects are mostly mild, but can be dangerous when abused in high doses. The most common side effects include confusion, constipation, and relaxation.
Other side effects of Opium abuse include:
- nausea or vomiting
- developing withdrawal symptoms
- small pupils
- reduced sex drive
- increased sensitivity to pain
Risks Of Opium Abuse
Opium is not as addictive as other opioids, but all opioids have addiction potential. Addiction to Opium is one of the greatest risks because of the far-reaching effects this disease can have on a person’s life.
Addiction can lead to relationship troubles, financial strain, effects on health, loss of job, or lack of performance at work or school, to name a few.
Opium can also lead to physical dependence, which means when not using the drug, a person will experience withdrawal symptoms. These range from mildly uncomfortable to painful and can affect daily functioning.
In high doses, opium abuse, especially when mixed with other drugs, can lead to overdose. Left untreated, opioid overdose can be fatal.
Opium Overdose Signs And Symptoms
Opium leads to overdose, particularly when mixed with other opioids or central nervous system depressants, by causing a person’s breathing to slow. Sometimes, a person may stop breathing. Even if not fatal, this can have damaging health effects on the brain and body.
Opium overdose is considered a medical emergency. Signs and symptoms of an opium overdose may include the following:
- blurred speech
- extreme drowsiness
- pinpoint pupils
- loss of coordination
- trouble with vision
- reduced reflexes
- slowed or stopped breathing
Treatment Programs For Opium Abuse And Addiction
Opium addiction treatment can help individuals stop use of the substance, seek relief from withdrawal symptoms, and enter recovery.
Residential, or inpatient, rehab programs are incredibly effective at helping opioid-addicted individuals quit use of substances like opioids. Here, individuals can receive medication to treat withdrawal, therapy to modify behavior, and counseling to learn coping skills for recovery.
For more information on treatment programs for opium abuse and addiction, contact one of our treatment specialists today.
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- U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Museum—The Origins of Opium
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus—Opioid Abuse and Addiction
- World Health Organization—Opium Abuse and Its Management: Global Scenario