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The Most Common Opium Abuse Side Effects

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Opium, and both the natural and synthetic drugs derived from it, can cause a number of side effects when the drug is abused. These side effects can range from annoying to severe, but the most common of them can all be problematic in their own way.


Opium causes the skin to become extremely itchy when abused often. This also occurs with most opioid painkillers prescribed by doctors and, according to Scientific American, “in some cases, the irritation is so bad that patients will opt to cut back on painkillers.” While it has been discovered that the itchiness is caused by only one opioid receptor that the drug binds to, opium itself causes a fair amount of discomfort and irritation when people abuse the drug. It is something many addicts are used to as well as being a telltale sign to others that someone is abusing opium or another type of opioid drug.


Constipation is, as stated by the International Journal of Clinical Practice, “the most common and debilitating symptom” of opioid-induced bowel dysfunction (or OBD). Almost all individuals who abuse or even take opioids clinically experience this issue, and it occurs because the drug inhibits movement in the bowel muscles.

Many people who abuse opium would rather take over-the-counter medications or just ignore the problem than see a doctor about their constipation. This can lead to a number of gastrointestinal problems, as many opium abusers do not want to give up the drug in order to relieve their constipation. Still, it is probably the most complained-of side effect when it comes to any type of opioid use or abuse.

Dry Mouth and Nose


Opium abuse can cause dry mouth and bad breath.

Most individuals experience dry mouth when abusing opium regularly. The drug can also cause bad breath, especially when it is smoked. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the dryness caused by opium abuse often affects “the mucous membranes in the nose” as well, leaving the inside of the nose dry and uncomfortable.


When people abuse opium, they usually do so to experience the relaxation, the euphoric high, and the pain relief that go along with using the drug. However, drowsiness is another strong effect the drug has on the mind, and many people do not realize how tired they will become after smoking opium or abusing it in another way. This can make driving and participating in other activities very dangerous.

Respiratory Depression

A small amount of respiratory depression is always caused when a person abuses opium or another type of opioid. However, this can be extremely dangerous when opium abuse is coupled with drinking large amounts of alcohol, a common occurrence. A person’s breathing could become severely slowed, even to the point where they stop altogether. When someone smokes or ingests a large amount of opium on its own, the same problem can occur, leading to overdose and possibly unconsciousness, coma, brain damage, and death.

Do You Want to Learn More about the Side Effects of Opium Abuse?

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