Opium Addiction 101
Even though it’s largely thought to be a relic of the past, a throwback to hazy and subtly racist times, opium use is alive and kicking. For proof, look no further than a simple search of “smoking opium.” How many unique and strange results came back? I rest my case.
So, what is it about opium that’s let this ancient drug endure for so many centuries? Simple – it’s addicting! Smoking opium is addicting! The psychoactive effects of opium are addicting!
Opium isn’t very different from powerful painkillers like oxycodone or hydromorphone or illegal “street” drugs like heroin. It’s an opioid. It produces intense euphoria and relaxation. Opium produces physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms.
The fact that it’s old doesn’t mean the physical or psychological effects of opium are any different from other opioids. Keeping that in mind, let’s look at some of these effects and sort out what opium addiction is really like.
What’s opium addiction really like? Well, it can’t be explained without examining opium’s effects on the central nervous system (CNS).
Opium is, as the name suggests, an opioid. It’s the oldest one around and is morphine, heroin, and painkillers’ grandpa. As an opioid, it depresses the CNS and decreases respiratory function.
Once someone smokes opium, effects begin almost immediately. An individual’s breathing and heart rate slow down. Their blood pressure plummets. Their pupils constrict (commonly called “being pinned”). Their posture relaxes.
Those are the physical effects of opium, but what about its psychological effects? Well, smoking opium has the same effect on the body as swallowing a Vicodin or shooting heroin, albeit on a smaller scale.
The psychological effects of opium include euphoria, relaxation, a “warm and fuzzy” feeling, apathy, and short period of unconsciousness (commonly called nodding out).
Having explored opium’s common physical and mental effects, let’s turn our attention to what detoxing from this drug is like.
Just like all other members of the opioid family, using this substance for extended periods of time will result in physical dependence and opium withdrawal.
Opium withdrawal occurs once the body and brain have become accustomed to a constant supply of endorphins (well, artificial endorphins which is what opium molecules are).
Common opium withdrawal symptoms include sweating, shaking, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, diarrhea, bone and muscle pain, and Restless Leg Syndrome. This last symptom, Restless Leg Syndrome, is caused by a severe lack of potassium and can be lessened by eating bananas.
Opium withdrawal lasts for between three and seven days. It usually peaks around day three and tapers off from there, with some individuals still showing acute detox symptoms a week out.
If you’re smoking opium, withdrawal should be a fairly obvious sign that you have a problem. What about if you suspect a loved one of abusing the drug though? Well, that’s where signs of opium addiction become paramount.
Signs of Opium Addiction
Opium addiction is more than simply a physical dependence upon the drug. While this is a sure sign something isn’t right, there are other, subtler, signs to watch out for.
Ask yourself the following:
- Do you or a loved one smoke opium everyday?
- Do you or a loved one lie about your use?
- Have you or a loved one faced consequences as a result of using?
- Have you or a loved one stolen to support your opium use?
These are all vague and general questions, but they should give a good oversight as to what’s really going on. If you think yourself or a loved one may be addicted to smoking opium, reach out for help today!
Call the addiction experts at Lighthouse Recovery Institute. We’re happy to give you a financial and judgment free opium addiction assessment. We’ve been there. In fact, most of our staff are in long-term recovery themselves.
We know what it’s like to be addicted to a substance. We also know what it’s like to overcome that addiction and live with purpose and happiness. Call us today!