Opium and its Derivatives: Effects and Treatment
Opium and its derivatives have been used for over 5,000 years. In the 19th century opium was used as a patent medicine for many small illnesses like cold, pain, diabetes, tetanus and 54 such diseases. In the first quarter of the 20th century opium was used to treat chronic alcoholism. Even today opium and its derivatives are used in some form or other.
Opium and its derivatives reduce pain and induce relaxation and sleep. Its primary characteristic is to induce sleep. Small doses taken during the initial stages of addiction produce restlessness, perspiration, drowsiness. Moderate doses produce sleep and as the dose is further increased, the sleep turns into a coma.
An overdose results in death. The continued use of opium, morphine, heroin and other derivatives leads to two serious consequences. These narcotics lead to physical tolerance, need for higher doses and severe withdrawal symptoms.
To begin with, the individual becomes psychologically conditioned to the drug so that once the habit is firmly established the person is forced to continue taking the drug or else experiences painful withdrawal symptoms.
These symptoms include restlessness, intestinal crumps, chills and digestive disorders. Secondly, a condition of tolerance is gradually developed so that larger doses must be taken to elicit their usual effects. Addicts of opium derivatives usually develop a craving for the drug.
It is the most often abused opiate. Psychiatric epidemiologic studies conducted in U.S.A. from 1981 to 1983 found that 0.7 per cent of the adult population had met DSM III diagnostic criteria for opioid abuse or dependence at sometime in their lives.
In U.S.A. there are an estimated 400,000 to 600,000 heroic addicts half of which live in New York City and most of them are between 25-35 years and start using drugs in their late teens or early 20s. It...