Addiction of Opiates

Heroin, Codeine, papaverine and morphine all are related drugs, as they all have the same source. These drugs are deprived from the latex produced from the plant opium, which is scientifically called papaver somniferum from the family papaveracea, by incision.

Generally, drugs that are deprived from this plant are called opioids.

Clinically: Opioids are considered as narcotic analgesics, they are usually combined with anesthetics. They also can be used as cough sedatives and astringent in diarrhea. But the abuse of these drugs without consulting a physician or a pharmacist always leads to dependency and then addiction.

This article will focus on the pharmacological effect of opioids, the symptoms that result from their abuse and withdrawal and how to treat or overcome their addiction.

1- Let’s start with Morphine:
It’s the most strong sedative, it changes the way of perception of pain, it’s given mainly as injection before and after operations and during anesthesia, also acts as gastric sedative.

Although the CLINICAL doses DO NOT CAUSE ADDICTION. It’s highly addictive, the body builds up tolerance to it so larger and larger doses may be necessary to have the same effect. Morphine also depresses the function of the brain center that controls respiration so high doses of morphine can kill by respiratory arrest.

Morphine interacts mainly with the opioid receptors in certain brain cells and other anatomical structures as the gastrointestinal tract and the urinary bladder.

Effects of morphine on the body include:
1- Pin point pupil.
2- vomiting.
3- decrease the reflex effect of cough.
4- Morphine decreases the respiratory rate by depression of respiratory centers, which may cause death by overdosing.
5- Analgesia.
6- Morphine activates the reward system of the brain leading to the sense of contentment.
7- morphine releases histamine from mast cells leading to urticaria
8- Increases the secretion of growth hormone.

Dependence and Tolerance to the drug:
Dependence to morphine occurs due to its effects of depression, sedation and analgesia.

Withdrawal produces a series of autonomic, motor, and psychological responses that incapacitate the individual and cause serious symptoms, although it is rare that the effects cause death.

2- Codeine:
Codeine is a moderately strong opiate drug that is used in pain relief when combined with acetaminophen and for the suppression of coughs at doses that don’t cause analgesia. Codeine crosses the blood brain barrier and activates the reward system in the brain by stimulating the release of certain neurotransmitters.

Some individuals use for legal medical purposes, but over time develop an addiction problem. After prolonged use an individual develops a tolerance for this substance and needs to take more and more of the drug in order to feel the effects.

3- Heroin:
Heroin is considered an opiate not an opioid as it’s synthesized partially in a lab by the acetylation of morphine.

Heroin is highly addictive opiate drug which is considered to be the most common of them.

Heroin is more potent than morphine

Most street heroin is cut with substances as sugar or starch or powdered milk, therefore heroine abusers don’t actually know the true strength of the drug, and they are at high risk of overdose and death.

Heroine is commonly injected, sniffed or smoked.

Treatment of addiction of opiates:
It’s not simple. Because addiction is a chronic disease, people can’t simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Most patients need long-term or repeated care to stop using completely and recover their lives.

Apomorphine: is a substance which is administered to the addict ( primarily heroin addicts) for approximately seven days leading to detoxifying the addict’s body with little or no side effects.

Methadone: which was developed by the Nazis during the world war II after the shortage of morphine, doctors where able to discover a drug that not only worked, but also lasted for a long time.

Buprenorphine: partial agonist that has mild opiate effects and reduces withdrawal cravings ( popular in France)

Doloxine: psychotic way to detoxification, but the side-effects are nasty.

Naltrexone: antagonist.

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