The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines an addiction as a condition of being addicted, and defines being addicted as being physically dependent on a particular substance. For this article the substance being examined is opiates, in respect of areas relating to opiate addiction.
Opiate addiction is thought of as a disorder of the central nervous system which is caused by sustained use of opiates. The central nervous system of the body consists of the brain and the spinal cord, and they contain millions of nerve cells. The nerve cells found in the brain can naturally produce substances called endorphins, which are natural pain killers. Prolonged use of opiates, however, causes these nerve cells to stop functioning normally, so that the body ceases to produce endorphins since opiates are being supplied from a source external to the body. This, in turn, causes the nerve cells to degenerate and become physically dependent on this opiates supply.
One noted opiate is heroin, which is both dangerous and illegal, but is readily available on the streets. It is a depressant of the central nervous system, and is so powerful that it can become addictive with just a couple uses. The drug can be injected, smoked, snorted, or taken orally, and all these methods allow the heroin quick travel access to the brain. Heroin, which is derived from morphine – which is also an opiate from the opium poppy plant – is sold as either a white powder, a brown powder, or a sticky black substance having the street name ‘Black Tar’ heroin. At first heroin was sold as a legal cough suppressant that was not addictive, and also as a morphine replacement. Its manufacturing and sale were later forbidden, however, when its true powerfully addictive colors were manifested.
Heroin has a powerful effect on the body. Once it reaches the brain, heroin is converted to morphine, and becomes attached to the opioid receptors involved in the pleasure system and pain perception of the body. This causes a high euphoric feeling, especially when injected, which wanes as tolerance develops with consistent use. Consequently, users regularly increase their dosages in an attempt to recapture the initial euphoric experience. A consequence of that dosage increase is the high risk of heroin overdose which can result in the death of the abuser. Heroin users often have dry mouth and experience a warming sensation in the skin, and a heavy feeling in the arms and legs. They also alternate between being awake and falling asleep.
Codeine is another opiate and is used in the treatment of mild to moderate pain. Because it is a pain-relieving narcotic that has the ability to become addictive, a doctor’s prescription for the usage of the drug should be followed exactly as directed. Addiction to codeine is recognized through compulsive or uncontrollable usage, and strong cravings that can only be eased when the drug is taken, as well as beginning signs of withdrawal. The symptoms associated with withdrawal from codeine include weakness, yawning, sweating, vomiting, fever, an irregular heartbeat, headaches, muscle pain and twitches, nausea, a runny nose, and insomnia. It is important that patients are gradually weaned from the codeine medication under the careful supervision of a doctor. Ingesting larger amounts and for longer periods than prescribed can be dangerous. Misuse of the drug could cause overdosing which is demonstrated by confusion, extreme drowsiness, small pupils, skin feeling cold and clammy, a weak pulse, fainting, and shallow breathing.
As the Waismann Method of Rapid Detox recognizes the cause of opiate addiction, it has revolutionized its treatment over the last 10 years. The procedure differs from other detoxification methods which are not very safe, and eliminates patients’ need for spending a long time in hospitals and rehabilitation programs, thereby returning them to productive lives within a few days of receiving treatment. The humane and safe treatment for addiction, which is medically supervised, is done in a hospital and has a high success rate with a proven track record. It actually provides an answer to the depletion of natural endorphins in the nerve cells caused by an outside supply of opiates. It therefore does not use opiate replacement treatments, or substitute a legal dependency, like methadone.