Strictly speaking, Opiates are drugs derived from the poppy plant that have been used over the centuries primarily for pain relief. Also known as narcotics, opiates can be natural or synthetic.  The natural opiates include opium, morphine, and codeine.  Other substances, called opioids, are man-made.  These substances behave like opiates in that they produce the same effects and are most often used to treat chronic or severe pain.  All opiate or opioids are also highly addictive.  Examples of opioids include Dilaudid, Demerol, Oxycodone, Vicodin, Fentanyl, Methadone, and Darvon.  Heroin is an opioid manufactured from morphine.  Heroin is rarely, if ever, used medicinally. Rather, it is used for its ability (initially) to give the user a feeling of euphoria.

Opiate Withdrawal and Detox

A user’s reactions and experiences with the opiate are dependent upon several factors including length of time, quantity of use, method of use, and the source of the opiate.  If procured on the street versus the pharmacy, it is usually mixed (“cut”) with numerous other substances, some of which are potentially deadly.   Under a doctor’s supervision and used as prescribed for short periods of time (1-2 weeks), opiates are very effective painkillers; however, even appropriate use over the long term can lead to dependence.  When a person becomes dependent, finding and using the drug often becomes the main focus in life. Even if the patient has never had a problem with alcohol or drug abuse, they can technically become and addict. Caught in the vise of dependence, people often “doctor shop,” going to several different physicians complaining of pain and asking for opiates. There are unscrupulous physicians, also known as “dirty doctors” who will supply users with prescriptions at inflated prices of up to $500 per visit. Often, people seek suppliers from the Internet or the streets; these activities are highly dangerous and very illegal.

Signs of opiate use are:

  • Lethargy and/or drowsiness
  • Constricted pupils and reduced vision
  • Shallow breathing
  • Needle or track marks on inner arms or other parts of the body from injecting needles
  • Redness and raw nostrils from sniffing heroin or pulverized narcotic painkillers
  • Use or possession of paraphernalia including syringes, bent spoons, bottle caps, eye droppers, rubber tubing, cotton and needles.
  • Individuals using opiate drugs may become both psychologically and physically addicted to the drugs in as little as two weeks. Individuals withdrawing from an opiate often feel like they have a severe case of the flu. In addition, psychological withdrawal may include mood swings, depression and increased sensitivity to pain. These withdrawal symptoms are always uncomfortable, sometimes excruciating, but they are not life-threatening.

Opiate Treatment Options

Like with any ad, there are many treatment and service options. Prescription painkiller dependence can be resolved by weaning (or “titrating”) a patient gradually off the drug, usually for a period of two weeks. Prolonged use of heroin, morphine, opium, methadone and suboxone can result in longer periods of withdrawal, accompanied by psychological treatment, group sessions and drug counseling. The best advice, obviously, is not to get started. However, if one must take painkillers for medical reasons, it’s always best to use them for short periods of time and always under the direction of a responsible physician.

Riviera Recovery provides opiate treatment options in Malibu, California, near Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Call Admission today to discuss options and get help. Call 866-478-8799

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