More than 10 million Americans (aged 12 and above) use and abuse opiates yearly. That number is only growing.
Understanding the effects of opiates is crucial to using them properly.
Opiates are drugs created from the opium plant. When taken, opiates can affect and change your brain’s reactions. Most times, opiates focus on relieving pain.
Opiates have been used as painkillers for decades. However, this is only done with a doctor’s prescription because of its addictiveness.
Heroin which is an illegal substance is also a type of opiate.
Opioids and opiates are interchangeably used. While this is not entirely wrong, there is a difference between opiates and opioids.
Opiates are gotten directly from the opium plant with its ingredients present. Examples of opiates are codeine and morphine.
On the other hand, opioids are manufactured products that have similar effects to opiates. Opioids can be fully or partially synthetic.
Morphine treats severe pain. It is one of the strongest painkillers and is commonly used in America. The downside is that it is also very addictive.
An overdose of morphine can even lead to death.
Codeine treats coughing and mild pain. Codeine is less dangerous than other opiates. This makes it more readily available OTC. It can also be prescribed by the doctor.
So, while it is less dangerous, its accessibility increases the chances of getting addicted. Codeine is popular among youths.
Fentanyl is only used to treat intense or severe pain. It is much more dangerous than morphine. Because of its potency, fentanyl should not be mixed with other drugs such as heroin.
Demerol which is also meperidine is used to treat moderate pain and can be very addictive. It should only be taken with a doctor’s prescription.
Methadone treats mild to moderate pain. It can also reverse or reduce cravings for other illicit drugs such as heroin.
When taken regularly, methadone is very addictive. This drug should only be taken with a doctor’s prescription.
Oxycodone treats moderate pain. Popular brand names for oxycodone are Percocet and OxyContin
Other types of opiates include
Opiate addiction is the inability to function properly without opiates. Addiction or abuse usually starts from the first intake of the drug. Normally, this comes with a doctor’s prescription.
When taken for long periods, users might no longer feel the effect of the drugs. This is especially frustrating since opiates usually address pain.
So, users may take a higher dosage than was prescribed by the doctor. The effect is immediate and the users will feel better. However, the body will eventually build up more resistance to the drug.
This can lead to the user increasing the dosage to get that feeling repeatedly. Soon enough, they start to depend on the drugs to feel better.
Full addiction develops when the user can no longer quit using opiates because of their cravings.
An opiate overdose can have serious health ramifications. In worst-case scenarios, it can lead to death.
The same also applies to people who mix opiates with other substances such as alcohol.
Abusing opiates can have both short and long-term effects
Diagnosis is usually made by a doctor or mental health expert. Your doctor might ask you questions relating to symptoms and dosage.
Blood and urine tests are also taken to rule out other physical conditions. These tests also allow them to see the drugs in your bloodstream.
The first step toward recovery is to stop using the drugs. This is an important step with its dangers. The process of stopping and removing all traces of opiates from the body is called detoxing.
Detoxing takes about 3-7 days depending on the severity of the situation. Some doctors might prefer the tapering-off method. This involves slowly reducing drug intake as opposed to suddenly cutting the user off opiates.
Patients will usually experience withdrawal symptoms after detoxing. These symptoms can be severe during the first few days and can last for months or years.
Examples of such symptoms include
Certain medications can reduce the impact of the symptoms and prevent relapse. They include
Most doctors recommend inpatient rehab centers after the detox program. Some benefits of this route include
Contact your doctor immediately if you have abused opiates.
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