Opiates are a group of drugs made from opium, which is a natural product found in poppy plants. Opiates are prescribed for the treatment of pain and have also been used to control diarrhea and as a cough suppressant. Opiates work on the CNS (central nervous system) and are categorized as Schedule II drugs. While a Schedule II drug has an accepted medical use, it also has a high potential for abuse. It is recommended that Schedule II drugs be used under high restriction because they have a greater possibility of severe psychological and physiological dependence.
Street Names and Illegal uses of Opiates
The street names for opiates vary based on the specific opiate being acquired. For opium, common street names include Big O, black stuff, block and gum. Street names for morphine include M, Miss Emma, monkey, white stuff and dreamer. Codeine is referred to as schoolboy and cough syrup; while hydrocodone is called vikes, norco and hydro. Heroin, the illegal opiate, is referred to on the street as dope, smack, H, train, thunder, black tar, China White, horse, and junk.
Heroin use is the most well-known type of opiate abuse, usually described as taken by intravenous injection, snorting, or smoking. However, even prescribed opiates can be just as dangerous as heroin. All opiates can lead to a strong addiction in as little as one or two uses. These drugs are very powerful and can lead to suppressed breathing and even death.
Effects of Opiates
With short-term use of prescribed opiates, you may experience the following side effects:
- Short-lived feelings of euphoria, followed by cravings for more opiates
- Constricted pupils
In addition to these physical and mental side effects, two of the biggest concerns about opiate abuse are how quickly a person can become dependent on using the drug and how easily a person becomes tolerant to the current dosage level. Between increasing the amount of the opiate due to tolerance and the dependence a person has on the drug, addiction and overdose are both a strong probability with continued use of opiates.
Long-Term Side Effects of Opiate Use
Long-term use of opiates can cause infection of the lining of the heart and valves, liver disease and lung disease. Many people experience changes in temperament or personality after using these drugs. Furthermore, long-term use of opiates can cause memory impairment and cognitive decline. Sometimes these brain changes are temporary, and sometimes they are permanent.
Signs of Opiate Overdose
If a person is using a prescribed opiate but becomes tolerant and dependent, he or she is at risk of taking more of the medication than what was prescribed. Symptoms of opiate overdose can include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cold and clammy skin
- Slowed heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Slowed breathing
When it comes to heroin, it is almost impossible to know the actual strength or purity of heroin because it is often combined with other ingredients, many of which can be toxic. Some of these other ingredients can cause a blood clot which can prove fatal.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), opiate withdrawal can cause the following symptoms:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Increased tearing
- Runny nose
- Abdominal cramping
- Dilated pupils
- Goose bumps
While many of these symptoms are not life-threatening, withdrawing from opiates is best handled in a controlled detoxification setting. Many people prefer the assistance that medically-supervised detox provides. A medical team can help ease the discomfort of these withdrawals and also help the opiate dependent patient stay clean and sober and not give in to temptation to use again.
Get Help for Opiate Addiction
The next time that you use opiates might cause an overdose. Do not let the misuse of opiates put your life at risk. Call our toll-free helpline today. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about opiate addiction treatment. We are here to help.