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The Dangers of Opium Overdose Effects

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There are five main categories in drug classification based on their chemical ingredients and their effects on users. Opiates and opioids are one of the classified drug categories. These are highly addictive, non-synthetic narcotics that are extracted from the poppy plant, Papaver somniferum.

  • Examples of opiates: heroin and morphine
  • Examples of opioids: Demerol, Darvon and Methadone
  • Opiates occur naturally
  • Opioids are manmade drugs that create the same effect as Opiates

Opiates, also referred to as narcotics, are drugs that alleviate pain, depress body functions and reactions, and when taken in large doses, cause a strong euphoric feeling. The user may experience unwanted side effects such as drowsiness, lack of attention, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and mental clouding.

Desired effects for an opiate abuser include:

  • Euphoric rush
  • Relaxed state
  • Relief of pain
  • Feeling of wellbeing

The typical duration of a single dose can last three to six hours. Because of the highly addictive nature of these drugs, the abuser must continually use more to achieve the same level of high. Opiates come in a variety of compounds and forms, and are more difficult to clearly describe in terms of form, color, odor, and other physical characteristics because of this. Opium and its derivatives can range from dark brown chunks to white crystals or powders. Depending on the method of intake, they may be in powder, pill or liquid form. Opiates may be taken orally, smoked, or injected.

Some of the Generic/Chemical names for naturally occurring Opiates include:

overdose signs

An opium overdose can be fatal.

  • Opium
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Heroin (semi synthetic)

Some of the names for synthetically derived Opioids include:

  • merperidine (Demerol)
  • oxymorphine (Numorphan)
  • oxycodone (Percodan)

Common Street Names:

  • Big M
  • Micro
  • Dots
  • Horse
  • “H”
  • Miss Emma
  • China white

Since both physical and psychological dependence on opiates are known to be high, it is very important to be able to recognize the symptoms someone may display while using opiates. Here is a list of some of the physical and behavioral symptoms that an abuser will experience while under the influence of opiates.

Physical Symptoms and Behavioral Symptoms:

  • Constricted pupils
  • excess sweating
  • nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
  • needle marks or “tracks”
  • slurred speech and slowed reflexes
  • slowed/shallow breathing and heartbeat
  • Drowsiness and Fatigue
  • Mood Swings
  • Impaired Coordination
  • Depression/Apathy/Stupor
  • Irrational /Unexplained Euphoria

Adverse health effects experienced by abusers also include a high risk of contracting hepatitis and AIDS due to the sharing of needles in IV needle users. An increased pain tolerance results from the use of opiates, which poses a danger to users who could more severely injure themselves or fail to seek medical attention due to the lack of sensitivity to pain. High physical and psychological dependence level of opiates compounds the impaired functioning. In addition, narcotics’ effects are multiplied when used in tandem with other depressant drugs and alcohol. This behavior can significantly increase the risk of an overdose.

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