What are Opiates?
Opiates are a group of narcotic drugs that are derived from the poppy plant and include heroin, opium, morphine, Oxycontin, Oxycodone and various other prescription painkillers. Many opiates are natural while others are synthetic recreations of these drugs but regardless of whether natural or synthetic, opiates are a dangerous substance that can lead to physical dependence and addiction that is difficult to treat. Opiates are often called opioids, the term that is defined as a synthetic form of the opiate drug.
Opiates are typically used to suppress pain, promote sleep and in some cases to eliminate cough. While opiates are a very commonly prescribed prescription pain medication, these medications are highly addictive and very dangerous. Various restriction schedules have been assigned to opiates based largely on their ability to cause addiction. For instance, the worst, is Schedule I and this is the class that heroin falls into. The least addictive of the opiates, is Schedule V which is the calls that most cough medicines with Codeine (another opiate) fall into.
When an individual takes opiates for a prolonged period of time or even as prescribed for a period of two weeks or more there is a risk of physical dependence occurring. Physical dependence on opiates leads to withdrawal symptoms that are felt when the opiate is no longer used or when the dose is significantly lowered. Opiate withdrawal symptoms are difficult to cope with for the addict and can take time to completely go away on their own. Some of the most common opiate withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle and bone pain
- Stomach cramps
- Cold sweats
If you believe that you or someone you love is addicted to opiates, it’s time to seek immediate help. Further, if you are prescribed an opiate based medication, be sure to talk with your doctor about the dangers surrounding dependence and the risk of addiction resulting from the use of the drug. Many good people who are prescribed opiates for a valid reason such as to reduce pain, find themselves addicted to the drug and unable to stop taking it. Beware of this potential for addiction prior to ever taking an opiate either that is prescribed or for recreational use.