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Opiates and Opioids

Opiates are drugs that contain opium or other naturally occurring alkaloid compounds such as heroin, morphine, codeine, thebaine, and other compounds that are found in opium plants.

There are also man-made drugs that have similar effects on the mind and body as opiates. These drugs are made from synthetic derivatives called opioids, (endorphins, enkephalins, etc.) such as oxycodone, fentanyl, methadone, demerol, and hydrocodone.

Opiates and opioids have a sedating effect on the mind and body that causes the user to enter a heavy state of relaxation causing the person to become drowsy and/or to fall asleep at times when he or she should be wide awake.

According to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, the definitions of opiates and opioids are as follows:

  • Opiates...A preparation or derivative of opium; a narcotic or opioid peptide; something that induces rest or inaction or quiets uneasiness.

  • Opioids...Posessing some properties characteristic of opiate narcotics but not derived from opium; of, involving, or induced by an opioid substance or an opioid peptide.

  • Opioid Peptide...Any of a group of endogenous neural poly-peptides (as an endorphin or enkephalin) that bind esp. to opiate receptors and mimic some of the pharmacological properties of opiate drugs--called also opioid.

Opioids are used extensively in medical practices for the treatment of pain caused by injuries, surgeries, and for certain dental procedures.

Both opiates and opioids can be taken orally, injected with needles, snorted through the nose and certain forms such as fentanyl can also be administered with trans dermal patches or by inserting them into the rectum.

Opiates and opioids are very addictive drugs that can cause mental and physical problems that often lead to life long complications. When people use opiates or opioids for the intent of getting high, they usually inject it into the bloodstream with needles or they snort it through the nose. Both methods are extremely dangerous and can result in an overdose, thereby sending the user into a coma which, in many cases, end in death.

As with all drug abuse scenarios, when it involves the use of opiates and opioid, there are no social boundaries. People from all walks of life get hooked on the drugs and it may be surprising to learn who they are. It's easier than you may think to get addicted to pain pills and easier still to graduate from pain pills to harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

Addiction comes with signs and symptoms such as mood swings, nausea, living in dirty surrounding and the lack of personal hygiene, itching and scratching uncontrollably, small pupils, being irritable, and the most telling sign or all is needle or track marks.

Many people who use opiates or opioids don't realize they are addicted until their lives start falling apart.

  • Their addiction causes them to put their cravings for drugs over everything else in their lives, even their children.

  • They lose the respect and admiration of their friends, family, co-workers and others in their inner circle.

  • Their mental stability starts being questioned by those who know them well.

  • They take on risky behaviors with their finances and ruin their credit.

  • Legal problems begin taking center stage in their lives.

  • Their overall appearance becomes suspect and they lose the ability to maintain good personal hygiene and overall cleanliness.

What can you do if you become aware that someone you know is addicted to opiates, opioids, or other drugs?

  • Try to get them to seek help immediately. There are many treatment centers with available programs that provide clean, safe places to go for detoxification, counseling, support groups, and other specialized services.

It's not always pretty when you try to help someone overcome an addiction but, as a friend or relative, you should try. Some people recover quickly, but it may take years of relapsing and therapy for others. It may be hard but try not to give up on them.

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