What Is Opium Addiction?
Opium is one of the oldest drugs of abuse in the world. It is sourced from the poppy plant. As early as 5,000 B.C., poppy plants were grown around the Mediterranean Sea. 1 Since then, the source of opium has spread to Asia and the Middle East with high concentrations of growth in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
The poppy plant has a milky substance that oozes from incisions made in the unripe seedpod. Years ago, people would remove the substance, collect it and set it out to dry in the air. The end result is opium. Today, a more efficient, mechanized process is used to extract alkaloids from the mature dried plant for use in pharmaceuticals. 1
The active opioid alkaloids derived from the opium poppy are used to produce a number of other substances for both pharmaceutical and illicit use, including:
Methods of Use
As a drug of abuse, opium can be found in a number of forms, including:
- Liquid solution or tincture.
- A sticky, tar-like solid.
- A fine powder that is brown in color. 1
Unrefined opium is most often smoked or taken orally, although some individuals may also attempt to use opium as an injectable drug or inhale the powder nasally.
Effects of Opium
The effects of opium include:
- Feelings of euphoria.
- Reduced feelings of stress and worry.
- Decreased perception of pain.1-888-373-0870
Who Answers? Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
An addict may give up social, occupational or recreational activities in favor of opium use.
As someone continues to use opium, he or she will be more likely to experience symptoms of tolerance, physical dependence and addiction.
General signs and symptoms of an addiction to opium include:
- Using larger amounts of opium or over a longer period than intended
- Being unable to cut down or control opium use.
- Spending large amounts of time obtaining, using or recovering from the effects of opium.
- Failing to fulfill obligations at home, work or school due to opium use.
- Continuing to use opium despite experiencing physical and mental health problems that were likely caused by opium use.
- Continuing to use despite relationship or interpersonal problems.
- Using opium in hazardous situations, such as driving a car or operating machinery.
- Giving up social, occupational or recreational activities to use opium.
- Tolerance: needing larger and larger amounts of opium to achieve intoxication or feeling less of an effect when the same amount of opium is used.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using opium or using it to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
- Craving, or a strong urge to use opium.
Consequences of Abuse
People who regularly use opium may also experience negative effects, including 2
- Dry mouth and nose.
- Vascular inflammation and puncture marks on the upper extremities (the “track marks” seen in some users who inject the drug).
- Bacterial endocarditis, hepatitis, and HIV (in users who inject the drug).
- Irritation of the nasal mucosa and perforation of the nasal septum (in users who snort the drug).
- Difficulties in sexual functioning. Overdose and Possibly death.
Seeking Help for an Opium Addiction
Seeking professional treatment for opium addiction and dependence can help prevent serious consequences in your life or in the life of someone you care about. It can also help ensure you stop using the substance safely and address any underlying issues that may be contributing to the addiction.
Quitting opium can be very difficult to do alone, especially if the person has been using the drug for a long time and abusing it with other substances. If someone tries to quit on their own, the person will experience a range of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms as the substance leaves the body. These symptoms may include:
- Muscle aches.
- Lacrimation (tearing) or rhinorrhea (runny nose).
- Enlarged pupils.
- Chills and piloerection (i.e., goose bumps).
- Depressed mood.
- Physical pain.
- Increased sensitivity to pain.
Since these symptoms may remain intense for several days, many will begin to use opium or other opioid substances again in order to avoid these effects. But they are only delaying the withdrawal.
What to Expect in Treatment?
For many that begin the path to recovery, medically supervised detoxification is the first step. During this process, medical professionals observe and treat the person as their body processes and eliminates opium from their system.
The treatment team may administer medications to reduce or relieve withdrawal symptoms. Or they may recommend a longer-term medication-assisted treatment using another opioid substance such as:
The use of medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and to ultimately help someone stop using opium, depends on the person’s individual needs, length and severity of use and physical condition.
Following the period of detoxification, the person can be transitioned into the treatment program at the opium recovery center. Programs can range from 1 to 3 months, with some people needing longer stays based on their level of addiction and needs.
While in the treatment center, the person will receive a range of treatments that focus on his or her physical health, mental health, and spiritual health. Behavioral therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, contingency management, and motivational interviewing are common, with goals that include:
Building an understanding of addiction to opium and other substances.
Identifying triggers and factors that lead to use.
- Treating any underlying physical health concerns, such as chronic pain, that can contribute to opium use.
- Improving the quality of life at home and in the community to establish a better environment upon discharge.
Source: – American Psychiatry Association
Osho Clinic (Psychiatry & Psychology)