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Opiates are powerful drugs that have both addictive and medical properties. They can be either harmful or beneficial, depending on how they are used. The properties that make them helpful can also make them dangerous.

Because of the thin line between “safe” and “sorry,” it is important to know what opiates are, what they do, and why they shouldn’t be abused.

Today we are going to learn how opiates work. We will also take a look at how treatment works for addicted individuals.

Opiate Overview

What Exactly are Opiates?

These substances are derived from the opium poppy plant. The gooey sap inside the pods of mature flowers is processed into various types of drugs. Opiates are technically different from opioids, although the two terms are used interchangeably in common usage.

Opiates are the natural derivatives like morphine and codeine. Opioids, on the other hand, are the synthetic and semi-synthetic derivatives like oxycodone and hydrocodone. Both types of substances are classified as narcotics.

In law enforcement, narcotics can refer to all types of illegal drugs, whether or not they are opiates. Additionally, some opiates are legal, granted that they are used exactly as prescribed.

What are they for?

Opiates and opioids are painkillers that are often prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. They can be given to patients who are suffering from cancer pain, post-surgical pain, and traumatic pain.

These substances act by attaching to specific proteins in the body called opioid receptors. These are found on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, and other organs in our body. Once attached, opiates can change the way the brain perceives pain. They replace the pain with feelings of pleasure.

In doing so, they also slow down the essential body functions such as breathing and heartbeat. This may cause both wanted and unwanted effects. The stronger the opiate, the faster and more powerful the effects.

Why are they Abused?

Opiates are very potent, and can be quite habit-forming when taken in high doses. The drugs cause feelings of euphoria, which is what makes them addictive.

Because of their feel-good effects, many people abuse their prescription and end up getting hooked on the drugs. In recreational settings, they can be sniffed, smoked, or ingested. Some people even inject it directly into their bloodstream in order to experience instant effects.

Fully synthetic products in particular are known to be very addictive.

What are the Effects of Opiate Abuse and Addiction?

Opiate abuse can lead to a number of physical and mental adverse effects. These problems may vary from person to person, depending on their drug habits and health condition.

In some of the worst cases, opiate abuse can cause respiratory depression. Continued intake of opiates may lead to addiction, dependence, and tolerance.

Tolerance is when the person no longer feels euphoria after taking opiates. They will need to take more of the drug just to get that high once again. Dependence is when the person’s body has adapted to the drug’s presence, making it nearly impossible to quit without going through withdrawal. Their body will react negatively when they stop taking it.

Addiction is the compulsive need to take the drug, even when they are already suffering from adverse effects.

Quitting at this point may cause depression, anxiety, and other withdrawal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, tremors, chills, and pain.

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How is Addiction Treated?

Just like any other addiction, opiate addiction should be handled by medical professionals. Self-regulation is difficult (and even potentially dangerous) because of withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings. The patient might only relapse.

Instead of dealing with addiction on their own, they should try to seek medical treatment. Opiate addiction can be treated using a combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy.

Medical detox is all about lowering the patient’s intake gradually. This makes withdrawal much easier to manage. It can be done with a replacement drug administered by a physician.

Behavioral therapy is all about dealing with the psychological effects of addiction. It helps the patient learn how to keep sober and how to live a drug-free lifestyle. This is personalized to suit the patient’s specific needs.

Treatment can be done as an inpatient or outpatient program. Look for a rehab facility near you today!

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