Opiates Abuse and The Most Abused Opiates
Opiates are drugs which are direct or indirect products of the opium poppy plant. Drugs which also have the same effects on the body and mind as any chemical substance derived from opium poppy plant are also called opiates.
Opiates or opioids are also chemical substances which are either pure extracts from the opium plant and haven’t been adulterated with other substances ore synthetically made to function like opioids. An opiate can be made from two naturally occurring opioids, have some opium extract in it or be made purely from non synthetic substances; but work like an opiate.
Opiates fall under the depressant drugs category. Depressants are psychoactive drugs which slow the functioning of the central nervous system and the brain; in effect slowing all bodily processes including thinking and sensitivity. Other depressant drugs are alcohol etc.
Other psychoactive drug categories are stimulants (which speed up brain and central nervous system functions) and hallucinogens (which affect cognitive functioning of the brain altering thinking).
Opiate use and working mechanism
Opiates, when taken into the body, attach to the opioid (pain) receptacles on the brain and the CNS blocking or distorting signal transmission from sore body parts to the brain. This blocks pain from the brain or distorts pain signals such that only a limited intensity of the actual pain on the hurting body part is transmitted to the brain.
In this effect, opiates are used to treat pain; some such as acetaminophen are prescription medications for mild pain while others such a morphine, Hydrocodone, subutex, heroin, methadone etc. are used to manage very severe pain. Opiates are also abused for these same numbing effects.
Opiates not only reduce sensitivity; to numb pain, but also induce drowsiness, reduce concentration, slow thinking and brain comprehension – which is why most abusers seek the drugs and take them at extreme quantities and intervals to keep away from reality.
Opiates also slow the rate/ speed of automatic body processes inclusive of respiration, digestion, heart rate, breathing, body temperature, functioning of liver and kidney etc. Medically, the brain slowing effect of opiates is used to treat depression and stress, to reduce brain hyper activity as well as induce sleep in traumatized patients.
Some of the most abused opiates include:
- heroin (hydromorphone)
- Vicodin/ Fentanyl
- buprenorphine (and all its compounds such as Suboxone/ Suoxone and subutex)
All the above opiates are prescribed for management of different degrees of pain, reducing hyper activity in the body and brain as well as suppressing coughs. However, most people, after discovering the drowsing and numbing effects of these depressants as well as other effects, opt to abuse the drugs purely for the narcotic effects.
The following are general effects of all opiates:
- Slowed breathing
- Lowered heart beat
- Decreased respiration rate
- Slowed liver and kidney functions
- Lowered body temperature
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of balance
- Sometimes one might lose consciousness (mildly if they have taken a low dose of a not so potent opiate, or fall into a coma if they take a high dose of a very potent opiate such a heroin and morphine)
Opiates abuse comprises one or a combination of the following:
Taking a combination of these drugs (which is rarely prescribed) or taking the prescribed drug together with alcohol which also depresses the brain and central nervous system; increasing drowsiness and dizziness that may be induced by these drugs.
Taking the drug against or without intake instructions; such as taking too much of the drug, more frequently and for longer than prescribed
Changing the original form of the drug and administering it in a way contrary to the prescribed method in an effort to get the drug into the blood stream faster so that its effects can be felt faster and more intensely
Opiate abuse effects:
- Can cause instant death when any opiate is taken in combination with alcohol or the other drugs to make a very lethal compound; which has more adverse effects than either of the combined drugs
- Causes drug resistance as the body and mind increase in tolerance for the drug; developing physical dependence or even worse, addiction
- Causes financial depletion as one has to keep funding the habit
- Causes untold suffering (physical and mental to the individual rendering the individual ineffective in everything they set to do
- Causes social stigma and disintegration as the abuser becomes a shame to their loved ones and has to be taken care after being unable to take care of his dependants and himself
- Costs the government a lot of money as these drugs cost a lot of money to make and they are meant for treatment etc, yet they are being abused and the government has to invest more money
- Can cause an overdose where by the level of the drug rise to lethal levels overwhelming the body and mind with their effects causing multiple organs failure and even death
To avoid abusing the drug unknowingly, always consult a doctor before taking any of these prescription opiates and if ever unsure of the effects or what to do, seek medical attention fast before proceeding with the medication.