What Are Opiates


What are Opiates?

In order to answer such a question, it is absolutely necessary to examine definitions from several dictionaries. Invariably, therefore, these definitions will be very similar to each other. Also, the nature of the substance will need to be examined.

Opiate Addiction

For example, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines opiates as drugs which are made from opium and have a tendency to relieve pain and cause the user to want to sleep. This happens because any uneasiness that a user was feeling is quieted, resulting in inaction and a desire for rest. Because of its nature, opiates are drugs that are disapproved of since it is felt that they cause the users to totally ignore any problems they might be having, rather than doing the things that need to be done to remedy them.

Opiates, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, are pain relievers, and so they are narcotic. In addition to relieving pain, opiates, because of their nature, also bring on a state of narcosis which is more than just sleep, but is really a nearly unconscious or insensible state. Opiates can also make a user physically dependent on or addicted to them.

A psychological definition goes a little further. Psychologically, opiates are defined as a drug which is of the narcotic type, and works in the central nervous system of the body, performing as a depressant. Opiates are derived from a substance called opium which is found in poppy plants, and which can therefore be naturally produced from these plants, or produced semi-synthetically from alkaloids within or outside of a laboratory and which, according to Wikipedia, are natural chemical compounds consisting of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and sulphur, as well as even chlorine, bromine, and phosphorus atoms. The significance of these elements is that both plants and animals, as well as other organisms like bacteria and fungi produce them, and they can be damaging depending on the dosage taken. Opiates exist today in drugs like morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and heroin, some of which are taken illegally as social drugs, such as heroin, or used for medicinal purposes, as in the case of morphine.

Wikipedia also states that opiates are so named because they are produced from opium which comes from the processed milky fluid of the opium poppy plant. Biologically, opiates exist in the form of morphine and papaverine, which are narcotic.

Wisegeek opines that opiates, which are also known as opioids, belong to a group of narcotics that have natural or synthetic opium, and act as a sedative. As a sedative, opiates have the ability to make users calmer, and this calmness can range from simply calming anxiety to preventing a user from having any response at all to stimulation. Medically, opiates can therefore enable sleep or cause a user to be rendered unconscious, depending on the levels of sedation administered. Medical practice employs opiates for numbing pain, and they are available legally only through a prescription from a medical practitioner.

One writer on the Science Museum network also agrees that opiates come from the opium poppy, and has been used for many years both recreationally and medically. He feels that morphine is the substance that is most active in opium, while codeine, an opiate also found in opium, is less powerful than morphine. Both those opiates are thought to remove pain and cause muscles to relax, thereby resulting in drowsiness. This occurs because opiates are said to imitate the body’s own painkillers. The more powerful an opiate is, the more addictive its ability, as seen in the case of morphine.

Opiate AddictionIt is also felt that some opiates originate from a resin found in the Asian poppy’s seed pop. Opiates can be found in various forms including tablets, capsules, solutions, syrups, and suppositories. Cough syrups, for example, may contain the opiate codeine. Because opiates can be used recreationally, they are potentially highly abused, as in the case of heroin which is also called ‘smack’, and medically abused when morphine is taken in excess.

Again, because of the nature of opiates, moderate usage is very important since in very large doses the user’s breathing slows down and the skin becomes blue, cold, and moist, which may result in death.

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