Opiates refers to an entire group of drugs which are used to treat pain. They are derived from opium which is procured from the poppy plant. While other terms such as opioids and narcotics are used as substitutes, opiates commonly refers to merphine, herine, and codine – all close relatives. Opioids, on the other hand, can refer to synthetic opiates such as oxycontin. Since opiates refers to an entire class of drugs, both legal and illegal, they each go by a variety of nicknames. These are commonly employed by those involved in the illegal use of the drugs.
HISTORY OF OPIATE
Most opiates have been used legally to treat pain. However, users frequently become resistant to certain dosages, requiring more to produce the same effect.
Moreover, these also elicit euphoria. Combine this with their high capacity for addiction, and it is no wonder that opiates are widely abused. Many of those who have been prescribed this drug go on to become addicted to it.
In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 4.2 million Americans reported using heroin at least once. Furthermore, according to the data collected on addiction.com, as of 2010, over twelve million Americans have reported using pain medication for non-medical purposes at least once as well.
MEDICAL RISKS OF PROLONGED OPIATE ABUSE
Opiates pose a legitimate danger to the life and well-being of their users when abused. While its side-effects include euphoria – the reason for the addiction – there are many others that aren’t equally enviable.
These are respiratory depression, constricted pupils, itching, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, confusion, and constipation. However the most terrifying symptom of opiate abuse is analgesia, or the inability to feel pain.
Moreover, since the body develops a resistance to the drug, an increased dosage is required over time to feel the same high. This places the user in danger of opiate overdose, and consequently death, if they aren’t treated in time.
SOCIAL RISKS OF OPIATE USE
Since it is the euphoria that gets an individual hooked on, the addicted develops an obsession with the high. This has led many to go to extremes to procure the required quantity of opiates. Teens and drugs have a history with this addiction. This quantity increases with time, driving the user to try everything within their means and beyond, increasing chances of risky behaviors such as criminal activities.
Most addicts also leave their previous group of friends in favor of a group of addicts. This makes it easier for them to access the drug as well. Opiate addiction can, therefore, turn an individual’s life upside down. It rearranges their priorities for the worse, and can destroy a good future.
However, this isn’t the end. Drug intervention will be required, and there are multiple treatment options are available. The first step, here, is detoxification. Substitutes are prescribed by qualified physicians to help your body wean off the opiates while preventing the withdrawal symptoms.
But relapse after a simple detox is fairly common since many of the psychological factors and circumstances that led to the addiction continue to persist. For this reason, the detoxification process is often followed by intense therapy session that address the core issues.
However, it doesn’t always have to be rehab that cures an individual. 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous have also proved quite helpful. These ensure an encouraging environment conducive of weaning an individual off the drugs. However, since it is a long term process, consistent support and out-patient care is vital to prevent relapse.