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Side-Effects of Opium Abuse and the Opium Withdrawal Stages

Opium is obtained from opium poppies. It contains codeine, papaverine, morphine, and the baine. It is medically prescribed as a narcotic painkiller. This drug helps in relieving pain by augmenting the endorphin levels in the body. It also produces an euphoric effect on the user which is the reason why opium has strong potential for being abused. The opium effects due to abuse are critical which can even prove lethal for the abuser after prolonged use.

Side-effects of opium

The opium effects can be categorized as short-term and long-term effects:

Short term effects of opium

The short-term effects of opium last for around 4 hours. How soon the immediate effects of opium intake will be evident depends on the way it has been administered into the body. If the abuser injects the dose of opium into the bloodstream, the drug will start showing the initial effects within a few seconds. However, if the abuser smokes the drug, the first sign of short-term opium effects begin to be evident only after 15 minutes.

The effects begin with the feelings of euphoria. The abuser becomes extremely happy. This feeling of rush is succeeded by a feeling of warmth spreading across the body. These sensations are usually accompanied by weightiness in the extremities. The mouth of the abuser turns dry.

During the 4 hours that the short-term opium effects remain, the abuser alternates between fluctuating degrees of alertness and sleepiness. He feels relaxed and a sense of freedom overwhelms him. The mental functioning worsens because this drug interacts with the central nervous system. The opium abuser may also experience nausea and retarded breathing. His pupils may appear constricted. Overdose can cause coma and even death.

Long-term opium effects

The long-term effects of the drug include severe physical and psychological damage to the abuser. Those abusers, who inject the drug right into their bloodstream, run the risk of getting collapsed veins. If the drug is taken frequently through intramuscular method, the chances of developing abscesses are highly enhanced. By smoking or eating opium, the abuser exposes his vital organs to grave damage.

The heart of the abuser suffers critical harm when this drug is smoked. Blood circulation is greatly affected. His cholesterol and oxygen levels change due to the chemical constituents existing in the drug. Extended opium use through intravenous method causes infection in the heart valves and the lining.

Opium also causes sexual dysfunction in the abuser. Since it behaves as a depressant for the central nervous system, it retards sexual stimulation. It slows down the blood circulation and hence, during sexual intercourse, the abuser, man or woman, experiences reduced sensitivity. Opium intake leads to inadequate production of testosterone and estrogen in men and women respectively. Erectile dysfunction is common in male abusers while women abusers suffer from oligomenorrhea or irregular menstruation.

Opium withdrawal stagesAn opium addict has to fight and leave opium addiction by going through 3 stages. With progression from one stage to the other, the fight becomes tougher for the patient. However, with perseverance and support from family and friends, he can win over this dreadful narcotic obsession. The opium effects can be experienced with mind and body both. That is why the withdrawal symptoms have an emotional as well as physical symptoms. An opium addict feels the need for an opium dose after 12 hours from the last intake. When he decides to quit opium, the first stage of opium withdrawal begins:

First stage

In this stage, the symptoms like anxiety and muscle ache are felt initially. As the stage proceeds, the abuser starts having watery eyes and he becomes agitated. Yawning at shorter intervals and falling asleep now and then are other associated symptoms.

Second Stage

The patient feels the longing for opium very strongly as he enters the second stage. Since the brain finds the lack of the usual opium effects like the "high" and "euphoria", the patient becomes increasingly irritable. He shows a physical restlessness, dilated pupils, and poor appetite

Third Stage

Once the patient resists the temptation for opium in the second stage successfully, the next stage brings in a different set of symptoms for him. Now, he is experiencing nausea which leads to vomiting. Some patients even suffer from extreme diarrhea accompanied by abdominal cramps and goose pimples. At the advanced level, the patient goes through intensified anxiety resulting in body shaking and rapid heart beating.

It is recommended that during the final stage, the patient has the company of a trustworthy friend or a family member for protecting him from hurting himself.