Opiates, sometimes referred to as narcotics, are a group of drugs which are used medically to relieve pain, but also have a high potential for abuse.
Some opiates come from a resin taken from the seed pod of the Asian poppy. This group of drugs includes opium, morphine, heroin, and codeine.
Other opiates, such as meperidine (Demerol), are synthesized or manufactured. Opium appears as dark brown chunks or as a powder and is usually smoked or eaten.
Heroin can be a white or brownish powder which is usually dissolved in water and then injected. Most street preparations of heroin are diluted, or "cut," with other substances such as sugar or quinine. Other opiates come in a variety of forms including capsules, tablets, syrups, solutions, and suppositories.
Heroin ("junk," "smack") accounts for approximately 90 percent of opiate abuse. Sometimes opiates with legal medicinal uses also are abused. They include morphine, meperidine, paregoric (which contains opium), and cough syrups that contain codeine [or a synthetic narcotic, such as dextromethorphan].
Heroin: Injected, Inhaled through nasal passages, Smoked
- Codeine: Taken orally, Injected
- Morphine: Injected, Taken Orally, Smoked
- Opium: Smoked, Eaten
- Meperidine: Taken Orally, Injected
Opiates tend to relax the user. When opiates are injected, the user feels an immediate "rush." Other initial and unpleasant effects include restlessness, nausea, and vomiting. The user may go "on the nod," going back and forth from feeling alert to drowsy.
With very large doses, the user cannot be awakened, pupils become smaller, and the skin becomes cold, moist, and bluish in colour. Breathing slows down and death may occur.
Dependence is likely, especially if a person uses a lot of the drug or even uses it occasionally over a long period of time. When a person becomes dependent, finding and using the drug often becomes the main focus in life. As more and more of the drug is used over time, larger amounts are needed to get the same effects. This is called tolerance.
IV needle users have a high risk for contracting hepatitis and AIDS due to the sharing of needles. - Narcotics increase pain tolerance. As a result, people could more severely injure themselves or fail to seek medical attention after an accident due to the lack of pain sensitivity. - Narcotic effects are multiplied when used in combination with other depressant drugs and alcohol, causing increased risk for an overdose.
- Nerves. Rapid and unpredictable mood swings due to the ups and downs (crack - heroin).
- Lungs. Hoarseness, emphysema, bronchitis, other respiratory problems are caused through smoking speedballs.
- Weight. Since cocaine and heroin are highly addictive, users are more likely to worry about where the next hit is coming from rather than eating. Consequently, most users suffer drastic weight reduction.
- Brain. Changes the biochemical state of the brain. Addiction occurs very quickly.
The vast majority of heroin addicts are IV needle users for which unsafe needle disposal presents significant safety concerns for the rest of society.
Because of tolerance, there is an ever increasing need for more narcotics to produce the same effects. Strong mental and physical dependency occurs as a result of this. The combination of tolerance and dependency creates an increasing financial burden for the user. Costs for heroin can reach hundreds of dollars a day which can lead to an increase in crime in order to fund the addiction.
Unwanted side effects such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, mental clouding, and drowsiness place the legitimate user and abuser at higher risk for an accident. - Narcotics have a legitimate medical use in alleviating pain. Workplace use may cause impairment of physical and mental functions. Workplace use is not as rampant as other drugs because of the paraphernalia needed for use and there is a problem finding a place to store or hide the necessary equipment. However, in order to stave off the particularly bad withdrawal symptoms of the heavy and moderately heavy user, other drugs are almost always used.
Researchers estimate that nearly half of the women who are dependent on opiates suffer anaemia, heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia, or hepatitis during pregnancy and childbirth.
They have more spontaneous abortions, breech deliveries, caesarean sections, premature births, and stillbirths. Infants born to these women often have withdrawal symptoms which may last several weeks or months. Many of these babies die.
The four basic approaches to drug abuse treatment are: detoxification (supervised withdrawal from drug dependence, either with or without medication) in a hospital or as an outpatient, therapeutic communities where patients live in a highly structured drug-free environment and are encouraged to help themselves, outpatient drug-free programs which emphasize various forms of counseling as the main treatment, and methadone maintenance which uses methadone, a substitute for heroin, on a daily basis to help people lead productive lives while still in treatment.
Methadone, a synthetic or manufactured drug, does not produce the same "high" as illegal drugs such as heroin, but does prevent withdrawal and the craving to use other opiates. It often is a successful treatment for opiate dependence because it breaks the cycle of dependence on illegal drugs such as heroin. When patients are receiving methadone in treatment, they are not inclined to seek and buy illegal drugs on the street, activities which are often associated with crime. Patients in methadone maintenance programs also receive counseling, vocational training, and education to help them reach the ultimate goal of a drug-free normal life.
A mixture of crack and heroin which comes in smokable or intravenous form, and is highly addictive. It is also called crank. This mixture intensifies the effect on both the mind and the body. It is a never-ending cycle of ups (the user is speeding, going ninety miles a minute) and downs (the user is drowsy, dragging, barely able to stay awake). Then the upper (crack) takes over again. This continuous cycle takes a terrible toll on the body.
Generally opiates can be detected in urine (at the Australian Standard Cut-off Level) for between 1 and 2 days, and up to one week for methadone. This can of course vary markedly depending upon physiological and consumption factors.
- Heroin is a white or brown powder normally cut with other substances like sugar
- Other opiates include capsules, tablets and syrups.
- Heroin represents 90% of all abused opiates
- Opiates are taken orally, injected, smoked or eaten
- An immediate "rush", followed by restlessness, nausea and vomiting
- With very large doses, the user cannot be awakened.
- Dependence is very likely
- Tolerance occurs over time so that the user needs more of the drug to cause the same effect.
- Hepatitis and Aids
- Increased Pain Tolerance leading to unnoticed injuries.
- Over-dose (possible death)
- Nerve Damage
- Lung Damage
- Drastic Weight Loss
- Brain Damage
- Safety of IV needles
- Tolerance and dependence of this potentially expensive habit becomes an enormously expensive burden for the user.
- These costs can lead to crime.
- Higher risk of accidents
- Impairment of physical and mental functions.
- The use of other drugs.
- High risk of disease during pregnancy placing the baby at risk
- More spontaneous abortions, breech deliveries and other birth difficulties often leading to the death of the baby.
- 4 basic approaches include
- Outpatient Programs
- THC is stored in fat tissues.
- Methadone is a synthetic drug that prevents withdrawal and the craving of opiates.
- Breaks the cycle of heroin use
- In conjunction with counseling programs
- Mixture of crack and heroin
- Highly addictive
- Enormous toll on the body
- 1-2 days in urine