Opiates are substance derived from the opium poppy, commonly grown in the Middle East and Asia. Some well known opiates include heroin, morphine, oxycodone (OxyContin), and hydrocodone (Vicodin). Opiates may be taken in pill forms in such cases as OxyContin and Vicodin, or snorted, smoked, or injected as is the case with heroin and morphine. However, addicts often smoke, snort, or inject Vicodin and OxyContin as well. Opiates are a very addictive class of drugs, and often require medical detox in order to safely make it through opiate withdrawal.
Opiates are highly addictive. Heroin is probably the most notorious opiate, as it has the highest abuse rate. Unlike some other classes of drugs, opiates actually create a rapidly developing physical addiction as well as a psychological addiction. The physical addiction of opiates make it ever more dangerous. Addiction begins with experimentation, and as regular use turns into dependency, an addiction develops. Opiate addicts often are very fatigued, experience mood disturbances, and may nod out at strange times. A well-known danger of opiate addiction is the ability to overdose on them. Although it is commonly thought that heroin overdose is a common mistake, it is actually much more difficult to do than the media makes it seem. However, opiates do run a high risk of overdose compared to other drugs, and especially when used in combination with stimulants.
Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Because of the intense physical dependence created by chronic opiate use, the human body has a hard time adjusting when the drug has been removed. One may experience tremors, cold sweats, fever, insatiability, and irritability or anger while withdrawing. Opiate withdrawal symptoms are known to feel unbearable, and many users attempting to detox end up relapsing due to the physical and emotional pain.
Opiate withdrawal can be dangerous without medical supervision. The uncomfortableness created drives users to relapse, as the opiates seem to be the only thing that takes the pain away. Detox programs provide a medically safe environment for someone to detox. Prescription medications may be provided in order to curb the negative withdrawal symptoms, as well as cravings. Over time, the withdrawing individual is weaned off of the medication. The user may experience withdrawal symptoms, but they will be far less severe than those of straight opiate withdrawal.
Continued treatment is often required if one wishes to continue living sober. Inpatient and outpatient programs offer resources to aid the struggling individual. Therapy, twelve-step meeting participation, and encouragement of healthy activities help the individual gain an understanding of their newly sober life.