Dependence Of The Opioid Type

Opioid type drugs are considered narcotic and are also a most effective pain reliever. They are used by physicians for surgery, fractures, burns, etc. Opium itself is a dark brown, plastic-like substance which is smoked through a long stemmed pipe. Opium is the dried milk of unripe opium poppy. For the most part, opium has been replaced by its more powerful derivatives: morphine and heroin.

Morphine is the preferred drug for relief of pain and is derived from crude opium. Morphine is an odorless, light brown or white crystalline substance in tablets, capsules or powder form. It is either injected or taken orally. It acts on the Central Nervous System as a painkiller (analgesic).

Heroin is the synthetic alkaloid form of morphine and is 2-10 times as potent. It is popular because of the “high” it produces.

Codeine is a weak derivative of opium and is most commonly used in cough medicine and milder pain medicine and is less addictive than morphine or heroin.

Methadone is a synthetic opiate developed during World War II in Germany. It is considered more addictive than heroin and is used to block the withdrawal symptoms of heroin. Methadone may be taken orally or injected. It is now also being used in treatment of severe, prolonged pain in cancer patients.

With Opioids, a strong mental dependency can occur which creates an overpowering compulsion to continue taking the drug. Tolerance develops so the dosage must be continually increased in order to obtain the initial effect. Physical dependency will occur with increased dosage and continued use.

Tolerance and physical dependence on the Opioids and synthetic narcotics develop rapidly. Therapeutic doses taken regularly over a 2 to 3 day period can lead to some tolerance and dependence and the user may show symptoms of withdrawal when the drug is discontinued. Opioid drugs induce cross-tolerance. Abusers may substitute one drug for another.

Symptoms & Signs

Acute intoxication with Opioids is characterized by euphoria, flushing, itching of the skin, drowsiness, decreased respiratory rate, hypertension and decreased body temperature. During withdrawal, symptoms begin to appear as early as 4 to 6 hours after cessation and reach a peak within 33 to 72 hours for heroin. The initial anxiety and craving for the drug are followed by other symptoms increasing in severity and intensity. A reliable early sign of withdrawal is an increased respiratory rate usually accompanied by yawning and perspiration.