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Medical use

Opium was commonly used as an analgesic until the development of morphine. Morphine continues to be prescribed for relief of severe pain, but fears of its addictive potential have limited its use. Laudanum was used in the 1800s to promote sleep and alleviate pain; codeine suppresses coughing; paregoric stops diarrhea. Medicinal opiates were freely available in the United States and Europe in the 19th cent., and the number of addicted people surged as a result.

Names of the drug

For drugs that are derived from opium such as morphine or heroin, there are a whole class of street names for the individual drug itself

  • Ah-pen-yen
  • Buddha
  • Chillum
  • Chinese Molasses
  • Chinese Tobacco
  • Fi-do-nie
  • Gee
  • Goric
  • Pen yan
  • Pin gon
  • Pin yen
  • When-shee
  • Yen Shee Suey
  • Ze

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Physical dependinces

In anyone who takes opiates regularly for a long time, nerve receptors are likely to adapt and begin to resist the drug, causing the need for higher doses. The other side of this tolerance is a physical withdrawal reaction that occurs when the drug leaves the body and receptors must readapt to its absence. This physical dependence is not equivalent to addiction. Many patients who take an opiate for pain are physically dependent but not addicted: The drug is not harming them, and they do not crave it or go out of their way to obtain it.

Psychological Dependence

Opioids have two main effects: an analgesic affect and a euphoric effect. It is their euphoric effect that is the reason why they can be abused. They can be used intravenously (IV), subcutaneously, and intranasally or smoked. Remember that if someone reports opioid abuse, they may also be abusing other drugs.

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How it's taken

By smoking the drug threw a pipe or can be smoked, eaten, or derivatives of opium, such as heroin, can be injected.

Side effects

Along with its needed effects, opium may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

  • malnutrition
  • respiratory complications
  • low blood pressure
  • mental and physical health problems
  • severe constipation
  • contracted pupils
  • moodiness
  • menstrual irregularities
  • lung, liver, kidney and brain damage
  • collapsed veins from injecting the drug
  • loss of weight
  • reduction of sex hormone levels
  • frequent infections
  • pregnancy complications including still birth
  • death

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Possible signs of overdosing

An opium overdose occurs when an individual accidentally or intentionally ingests more of the drug than the body can process. Opium is the extract that is derived from seedpods of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, and is the least potent of all of the opiates. Opium is often sold illicitly on the street as a powder or as a black or dark brown colored tar like substance.


Opiate withdrawal refers to the wide range of symptoms that occur after stopping or dramatically reducing opiate drugs after heavy and prolonged use (several weeks or more).

Opiate drugs include heroin, morphine, codeine, Oxycontin, Dilaudid, methadone, and others.

  • Mood swings that were not present before
  • Slowed reflexes (which can make skilled tasks, such as driving, very dangerous)
  • Apathy and depression
  • Criminal activity to obtain money
  • Sudden financial changes, such as loss of money or property
  • Social isolation, new friends that use drugs or no friends at all
  • Neglect of things the person once loved, such as hobbies or family

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Signs someone is on this drug

Being of similar structure, the opiate molecules occupy many of the same nerve-receptor sites and bring on the same analgesic effect as the body's natural painkillers. Opiates first produce a feeling of pleasure and euphoria, but with their continued use the body demands larger amounts to reach the same sense of well-being.

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