Opium is one of the oldest drugs in the world, some research shows that its consumption comes from ancient Mesopotamia, it is even known that they referred to the seeds of the poppy from which they extracted opium as “the plant of joy.”
However, its consumption by ancient civilizations was generally used to help people sleep, relieve pain, as a powerful tranquilizer and even as an anesthetic; however, it is likely that there were also used for recreational reasons.
Opiates act directly on the central nervous system, causing a feeling of well-being and euphoria in the consumer, who, with continuous use, generates a high tolerance to the substance resulting in a dangerous addiction.
In medical terms, opioids are used to relieve acute pain related to surgery or some other medical interventions, as well as to relieve chronic pain from certain diseases and sudden moderate to severe pain, as these medications mimic the activity of endorphins, which are substances that the body produces to control pain.
It is worth mentioning that when opioids are used to treat a brief episode, dependence and addiction are very rare, although some people who take opioids for several days experience some mild withdrawal symptoms when they stop; however, people who take them for a long time to treat chronic pain have a high risk of developing a substance use disorder, since opium causes tolerance and physical and mental dependence.
There are different types of opiates:
Natural: they are the alkaloids of opium. They come directly from the plant and are not synthetic.
Semi-synthetic / artificial: created from natural opiates.
Synthetics: they are completely artificial and mimic the effect of the previous ones, although their structure is not related to the opium alkaloids.
Effects of opiate use:
* Slow respiratory rate
* Little coordination
* Need for higher doses to relieve pain
* Various digestive disorders
* Respiratory insufficiency
* Pulmonary congestion
* Angina pectoris
It is important to mention that the combination of opioids, alcohol and sedatives increases the risk of respiratory depression and death; that combination is often present in fatal drug overdose episodes.