“Opiates: What are they?”

Due to their notorious reputation for being highly addictive and frequently abused, opiates are well-known by the general public. Still, not many people could answer the question of “how are they different from opioids?”

Through this article, we wish to clarify this. Today we’re going to talk about the effects of opiates, the abuse statistics, and the possible treatment for those who get addicted. Let’s get started.

Opiates: What are they?

The term opiate is primarily used to describe a drug that is derived from opium. Meanwhile, opioid is a more modern term. It refers to all substances, either natural or synthetic, which bind to opioid receptors.

Opiates are the alkaloid compounds found naturally in the opium poppy plant. Opioids can be synthetic.

Both classifications may pertain to drugs of high abuse potential, which are therefore controlled by governments all around the world.

Still, both words are often used interchangeably, thus explaining the common confusion between the two.

Opiates: Abuse Statistics

In 2010, more than 210 million opiate prescriptions were filled. From this number, around 12 million people confessed to abusing the drugs. Most of them admitted to using the opiates for recreational purposes.

Furthermore, it is shown that many heroin abusers were previously misusing their prescription opiates.

In 2013, around 0.4% of the global population between the ages 15 and 65 were using opiates recreationally. This figure represents between 13 and 20 million people within the given age range.

Other studies suggest that deaths from opiate painkillers outnumber the deaths from all the other illicit drugs combined. This is possibly because the term “opiates” spans a large variety of drugs. This ranges from illegal drugs like heroin and opium, to legal drugs such as morphine, fentanyl, and codeine.

Other examples of opiates are: oxycodone, and hydrocodone.

Opiates: Signs of Abuse

There are ways to determine if someone is abusing opiates. The drug produces feelings of joy, so a user may show noticeable or inexplicable signs of euphoria. They will also look drowsy, and with constricted pupils. They may show other signs such as slowed breathing, mood swings, and general confusion.

These are just the physical signs. There are other ways to tell if a person is abusing opiates. For starters, if they are trying to get prescriptions from multiple doctors, there’s a chance they are using it recreationally.

If they are trying to hide their use of the drug, there’s probably a problem you need to be worried about.

Opiate Abuse and Effects

If you or someone you love is suffering from opiate abuse, they may encounter different adverse effects. There are both short term and long term impacts to be aware of. In the short term, opiate abuse can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

But in the long term, they may experience respiratory depression, cumulative hypoxic end-organ injury, bowel perforation, and intestinal ileus. If taken intravenously, the user also puts himself at risk of blood-borne illnesses.

Opiate Abuse Treatment

Opiate recovery often starts with a background check and medical examination. The rehab facility will need to take into consideration how long the person has been abusing the drug; the dosage taken; the history of substance abuse, among other things.

The best treatment approach will be determined based on the answers to these questions.

Detoxification will often follow, during which the treatment facility will handle all of the withdrawal symptoms that the patient will go through. The detox process will involve slowly getting the person off the drug while stabilizing their condition.

Residential rehab and outpatient therapy are available options, depending on the patient’s situation. There are a number of factors that may affect which type of treatment they get.

But in order to ensure quick and safe recovery, it is important for the patient to receive plenty of love and support from the people that care about them the most. Understanding what opiates are is a great way for a family member to know how to address the problem of opiate addiction.