According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “It is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide.” Both synthetic and natural opioids, and illicit and prescription substances under the same category, are derived from opium, a highly addictive, natural substance that can cause dependence after long term use or abuse. If you are curious whether or not your body and mind have already become dependent on this drug, it is important to consider the signs and, if necessary, seek treatment as soon as possible.
Illicit Opium Abuse and Dependence
Opium itself is no longer used medically to treat pain, and it is considered to be a drug of abuse that many individuals take illicitly. Even though a person can become dependent after taking an opioid medication for more than two or three months, it is also possible for an individual to become dependent on opium itself, especially if they abuse it persistently and often.
Dependence is similar to addiction, which can also occur in chronic opium abusers, but it is not exactly the same. However, when someone becomes dependent on a drug they are abusing, addiction is not usually far behind.
Recognizing the Signs of Dependence
Opium dependence is both physical and psychological, and it creates a number of issues for the individual, one of the most intense of which are withdrawal symptoms. When a person stops smoking or otherwise using opium suddenly, they will experience a number of withdrawal symptoms, including:
- Muscle and bone pain
- Tearing of the eyes/crying
- Runny nose
- Abdominal cramps
- Dilated pupils
Becoming dependent on this drug will cause you to need it in order to avoid these symptoms. You will also feel like you cannot be happy without it and begin to believe that you cannot live without the drug. In many cases, opium abusers also begin to experience cravings for the drug, but this is a strong sign of addiction and not necessarily always of dependence.
Am I Dependent on Opium?
If you are still concerned that you may be dependent on opium, ask yourself the questions below. Make sure to be honest with your answers, as they can help you determine whether or not you need help.
- Do I need to smoke, ingest, or otherwise use opium to get out of bed in the morning or to fall asleep at night?
- Do I think about the next time I will be able to use the drug when I am unable to use it?
- Does my day revolve around getting my opium fix?
- Do I become extremely unhappy, anxious, or angry when I cannot use opium?
- Have I experienced the withdrawal symptoms mentioned above when I was unable to use the drug?
- Have I considered using another type of opioid that is easier to obtain, cheaper, or more intense in its effects to get the high I want?
If you answered yes to these questions, it is very likely that you are already dependent on opium. Seeking help now is important, as continued abuse will likely lead to addiction. If you want to know more about opium abuse in general or dependence, call 800-429-5210 (Who Answers?).