Opiates are classified as a narcotic derived from the opium poppy flower. In its natural form, the milky sap is extracted from the seedpods. This contains the chemical compounds of opium, morphine, and codeine.

opium poppy plant

What are Opiates?

Opiates are classified as a narcotic derived from the opium poppy flower. In its natural form, the milky sap is extracted from the seedpods. This contains the chemical compounds of opium, morphine, and codeine. Opioids are synthetically manufactured thus modifying their natural form.

What is the Difference Between Opiates and Opioids?

Opiates are sometimes referred to as opioids. But understanding that there is a difference between the two is important.

The term opiates is historically used to identify drugs derived from the opium poppy plant. While opioids are their synthetic counterparts like Percocet, Oxycodone, Methadone, and Vicodin.

Today, the two terms are used synonymously. Both forms are potentially addictive and abused. Each causes physical dependence leading to life-threatening incidents. More than 115 people die each day from an opioid overdose according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Globally almost two million people abuse opioids.

Opioids account for the highest prescribed medication to treat chronic pain. The drug is a synthetic subclass of opiates. They both share similar effects ranging in different degrees. Other derivatives (byproducts) are finding their way into professional healthcare and the black market unlawfully.

In its natural form, the substance is taken from the poppy flower. It is used to achieve some level of pain-relieving sedation. The natural compounds of morphine and codeine found in opium are used throughout the medical industry for nervous disorders, cancers, and pain management. Whether administered as a prescription or obtained as a recreational drug is it highly addictive and frequently abused.

What are Opiates Used For?

  • Morphine treats pain and is a recreational drug with effects lasting for a few hours.
  • Codeine is derived from morphine and used to treat coughing as a syrup helping the body to relax.
  • Heroin is produced from morphine; the color and grade vary depending on the composition of other drugs.

Opiates List

Opiates lists are comprised of several different drugs creating semi or synthetic opiates. Drugs manufactured to mimic the effects of opiates are just as dangerous as the pure form. These drugs deaden the sensation of pain or dull the senses prompting drowsiness (sedation).

Medically these drugs are used when patients do not respond to other treatments. Such reasons could be having an adverse reaction to medicines due to addiction, allergies or genetics.

It doesn’t matter which form is used – all drug in the list of opiates are lethal narcotics. The street names are used to hide the existence of drugs from nonusers and family members.

  • Black Tar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cash
  • Cough syrup
  • Dope
  • Liquid Crack
  • Morph
  • Smack
  • T 3
  • Vicos

Signs of Opiate Use

Changes associated with behaviors and bodily functions are signs of opiate use. Opiates affect people differently. One individual may find pleasure due to its pain relief. For some, the need to take more and more of the drug continues over time. Sometimes the individual has no awareness of the developing dependency. Others experience a decrease in brain activity, and difficulties with the central nervous system functions become more apparent. These issues eventually cause physical instabilities.

Two common signs of opiate use are nausea and constipation. There are other bodily signs of opiate use. Some signs are visible, and some are not to a family member, friend or work associate. Left untreated these effects can lead to health issues, life-threating disorders, and severe withdrawals when stopped.

  • Anxiety
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Decreased pain
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • High sensitivity to pain
  • Imbalance in hormones
  • Irregular breathing
  • Itchy skin (pruritis)
  • Lack of tolerance
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Physical dependence
  • Severe weight loss
  • Uncontrollable muscle jerking
  • Vomiting

Opiate Addiction Symptoms

Some opiate addiction symptoms are noticeable to the inexperienced eye. Specific indicators are masked by the individual suffering from pain or knowingly choosing to participate in recreational drugs. Evidence of opiate addiction symptoms emerges as the user loses the ability to focus or perform simple tasks. Opioid abuse, intended or not instigate change in how our brain functions, replacing normal responses with compulsive behavior.

  • Distant from friends and family
  • Lack of motivation
  • Needle track marks
  • Poor performance

Sometimes misuse leads to abuse as a method of escaping reality. Many people find drugs as a solution to a recurring pain that is difficult to live with. Others look to drugs as a lifestyle routine to deal with the emotional burdens, looking for an outside influencer that quickly changes attitudes, values and general perspectives of family or society.

Health Influencing Symptoms

An opioid dependence can provoke other health conditions by breaking down the body’s immune system. The increased tolerance through the extensive use of opiates contributes to life-threatening consequences. Prevention and recovery include following medical directions and professional supervision. These health conditions can occur whether opioids are taken orally or injected. No one should attempt to self-treat these disorders.

  • Coma
  • Death
  • Disease
  • Heart Attack
  • Infection
  • Legal Troubles
  • Organ Damage
  • Respiratory Failure
  • Seizures
  • Stroke

Keep in mind, symptoms of opiate withdrawal can be deadly. Try to avoid sugary snacks that influence the blood sugar levels. Refrain from consuming any alcohol, caffeine or over-the-counter painkillers.

What Are the Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal?

Taking opiates over an extended period of time comes with the risk of becoming physically dependent. Once the body is no longer taking it or the dose of opioids is reduced, the symptoms of withdrawal begin to appear.

So, what are the symptoms of opiate withdrawal? The most common symptoms are listed. The level of experience does vary from person to person – from mild to severe. For the untrained eye, symptoms of opiate withdrawal may appear like a cold or flu in the beginning.

These symptoms need to be monitored and controlled with professional guidance using opioid antagonists. Drugs like buprenorphine and naloxone lessen cravings for opiates while diminishing some of the physical withdrawal symptoms. Antagonists help to restore independence from drugs. It’s not an easy task, and the process is lengthy.

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme sweating
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting

How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last?

The length of withdrawal symptoms depends on the individual and other health factors. Abruptly halting the use of opiates can spur these withdrawal effects within twelve hours. Some individuals have experienced withdrawals continuing for days, weeks or even months.

How long opiate withdrawal lasts depends on the drug type, form, dosage and the extent of time an individual has been taking the drug.

The withdrawal symptoms don’t last forever. It took time to develop the condition. It will take time to recover from opiate addiction. Withdrawal durations happen in phases. The body will naturally dispute the intermission of opiates, responding with withdrawal symptoms. Converse actions can result due to addictive ailments.

  • Constipation – diarrhea
  • Depression – euphoria
  • Drowsiness – insomnia

During the first few weeks after stopping opiates, the body’s endorphins begin stabilizing. This helps to counterbalance the withdrawal effects. An individual’s awareness, sensations, and healthy body functions start to return. Efforts to restore a previous lifestyle is a challenge. But, it’s not impossible. The healing and return to our social circles could take months as each day progresses.

It’s important to take the time to learn about opiates – prescribed opioids and nonprescription. Both have lethal consequences when misused. Our health status and mental conditions contribute to the dangers of these drugs. In some cases, this leads to severe illness or death. Although opiate symptoms may appear similar to common behaviors, recognizing the condition can make a difference in relapse prevention and recovery of a person’s life.

Do You have questions about opiates and addiction treatment?

Call Lakeview Health to speak with one of our addiction specialists. Our representatives can answer questions about what to expect while in treatment, what services are available, and how we can help you begin your journey toward long-term recovery.

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