What Are Opiates
Opiates are essentially a type of narcotic drug. They are used as primary CNS depressants, i.e. for suppressing activity across the Central Nervous System. All opiates are derivatives of opium. They are produced from poppy plants and other synthetic substances that have a chemical structure similar to that of opium. The most common of opiates with a global presence include heroin, morphine, codeine and oxycodone.
Opiates are sometimes also referred to as Opioids or a select type of narcotics that have been created using some form of opium. Opiates are mainly used in the medical fraternity as a sedative and are abused for creating a more intense effect of the same kind. When used in the medical field as a sedative, opiates are helped to relieve anxiety. These are often mixed with other anti-anxiety or anxiolytic medications to ensure that the patient doesn’t suffer from anxiety or panic when faced with stressful situations.
Opiate receptors are found in most animal and human brains. These receptors are prone to being acted upon when different kinds of opiates like morphine or heroin are used. These receptor sites are encoded in the development of brain because of neurotransmitters that use the same receptors for inducing an affect that is similar to those produced by opiates. However, the effect induced by neurotransmitters is well-regulated. This means that it doesn’t induce drowsiness or the kind of high that is associated with using opiate drugs. Neurotransmitters use these receptor sites for inducing a calming effect on the mind whereas opiate drugs are used for a highly sedative effect that can be very harmful.
When taken in slighter larger doses, opiates can induce sleep too. Sometimes, they are used as an emergency sedative for patients who are suffering from extreme pain due to an illness or injury. Here, the effect of opiate medications might induce some degree of unconsciousness. However, since this usage is overseen by medical health professionals, there are almost negligible chances of the patient suffering any harmful side effect whereas when opiates are abused as recreational drugs, the effect can be lethal.
Other opiates include methadone and most of the prescription painkillers that are usually prescribed for comforting the patient in times of unbearable pain. Opiates are abused since apart from alleviating the pain temporarily they are also capable of inducing a euphoric feeling. Most opiates will cause some degree of drowsiness and slight side effects like hazy vision and clouded judgment but these issues are overseen and controlled in a clinical setting.
Many times patients administered opiate medications don’t experience the desired results, i.e. their pain doesn’t seem to subside. This is because they have developed some degree of opium resistance which happens due to long-term, unregulated use or abuse of opiates. Once this tolerance is developed, the user seeks higher dosages and in this manner, the dependency and the amount of opiate abuse gradually increases.
Regular use of opiates is known to cause addiction which is quite difficult to treat. Similarly, weaning somebody from opiates is difficult with a wide set of withdrawal symptoms surfacing. It takes many weeks for the body to get rid of opiate. This kind of opiate detoxification also requires some degree of medical supervision.
Please note that long term usage of medications including the most basic form of opiates too is capable of inducing an addiction. For instance, cough medications contain Schedule V opiate codeine. Even then, children using this syrup beyond the recommended period can develop an addiction to it. Schedule II opiate medications represent the most restricted of opiate meds, such as those including morphine.