Opium Abuse

Opium is one of the world’s oldest addictive drugs. It is found in nature, within the unripe seedpods of the opium poppy.

A wide variety of opiate drugs can be derived from opium, including prescription analgesic medications like morphine, and illegal drugs such as heroin. Opium can be swallowed, smoked or injected. Most users prefer to smoke or inject the drug because this speeds up the effects and amplifies the physical rush.

Understanding Opium Abuse

Opium functions by changing the way that your brain and spinal cord respond to pain signals. It does this by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain, which are also responsible for the production of the brain chemical, dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for the euphoric rush that you feel when you take opium.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, opium is made from a “milky latex” found in poppy seed capsules. The latex coagulates, “turning into a gumlike brown mass upon exposure to air. This raw opium may be ground into a powder, sold as lumps, cakes, or bricks, or treated further to obtain such derivatives as morphine, codeine, and heroin. Opium and the drugs obtained from it are called opiates.”

Street Names for Opium

  • Ah-pen-yen
  • Aunti, Aunti Emma
  • Big O
  • Black Pill
  • Chandoo, Chandu
  • Chinese Molasses, Chinese Tobacco
  • Dopium
  • Dover’s Powder
  • Dream Gun, Dream Stick, and Dreams
  • Easing Powder
  • Fi-do-nie
  • Gee
  • God’s Medicine
  • Gondola
  • Goric
  • Great Tobacco
  • Guma
  • Hop/hops
  • Joy Plant
  • Midnight Oil
  • Mira
  • O, O.P., and Ope
  • Pen Yan
  • Pin Gon
  • Pox
  • Skee
  • Toxy
  • Toys
  • When-shee
  • Ze, Zero

Signs and Symptoms of Opium Abuse

Some signs and symptoms of an addiction to opium or opiate drugs may include:

  • confused thinking
  • lack of energy
  • apathy
  • excessive sleepiness
  • mood swings
  • pain complaints
  • anxiety and depression
  • irregular body temperature
  • financial concerns
  • inability to concentrate
  • erratic behavior
  • isolation from family and friends
  • changes in appearance
  • risk-taking behavior

Side Effects

Opium and opiate drugs can cause a number of side effects. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • confusion
  • shivering
  • severe muscle stiffness or twitching
  • loss of coordination
  • nausea, vomiting
  • blue or purple color to the skin
  • changes in heartbeat
  • agitation
  • hallucinations
  • extreme drowsiness
  • fainting
  • chest pain
  • fever
  • sweating
  • itching, hives, or rash
  • swelling of the eyes, face, mouth, lips or throat
  • loss of appetite
  • weakness or dizziness
  • inability to get or keep an erection
  • irregular menstruation
  • decreased sexual desire
  • seizures
  • hoarseness
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing

Dangers of Opium Abuse

Opioid receptors are found in the same areas of the brain that control respiration, which means that opium is capable of slowing your breathing. This slowed breathing could reach a point of coma or even death. Morphine, drug made from opium, is often given to people in hospice care, when death is inevitable, and keeping the patient comfortable is considered more important than the risk of fatal side effects.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration instructs you to call 911 immediately if a person taking opioids exhibits any of the following overdose symptoms:

  • Their face is extremely pale and/or feels clammy to the touch
  • Their body goes limp
  • Their fingernails or lips have a purple or blue color
  • They start vomiting or making gurgling noises
  • They cannot be awakened or are unable to speak
  • Their breathing or heartbeat slows or stops

Who Abuses Opium?

There is no one type of person who becomes addicted to opium. Anyone who tries it makes themselves vulnerable. You may find the intense sense of peace, the dreamlike state, and the rush of bliss the drug provides irresistible, despite the numerous unpleasant side effects.

Continual use of opium will result in physical tolerance, so that you will find yourself taking more and more of the drug just to achieve the same level of intoxication. This will increase your risk of fatal health complications.

You may have attempted to quit the drug on your own, and found the withdrawal symptoms too difficult to manage.

MedlinePlus details the early symptoms of opiate withdrawal as:

  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • muscle aches
  • increased tearing
  • insomnia
  • runny nose
  • sweating
  • yawning

Late symptoms of withdrawal:

  • abdominal cramping
  • diarrhea
  • dilated pupils
  • goose bumps
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Opium Addiction

Opium is also frequently abused in combination with other drugs. “Buddha” is marijuana laced with opium, and “Black” is blend of opium, marijuana, and methamphetamine.

Whether used alone or in conjunction with other drugs, opium enables addicts to temporarily escape their lives and their difficulties. The problem with escaping is that your life will always be there when you come down from a high, and inevitably, your difficulties will grow larger and more complex as your addiction continues.

Am I Addicted to Opium?

How can you tell if you are addicted to opium? Ask yourself the questions below:

  1. Do I feel compelled to use opium regularly —daily or even several times a day?
  2. Do I suffer from intense urges for the drug?
  3. Do I need more opium now than I did when I started using?
  4. Do I spend more money than I can afford on drugs?
  5. Have I withdrawn from people and activities I used to love?
  6. Is it important to me to make sure I always have a supply of opium?
  7. Have I experienced any major problems in the last year, such as a breakup, job loss, car accident, family problems, or getting arrested as a result of my drug use?
  8. Have I started taking risks or doing things that I wouldn’t have before I started using opium?
  9. Does it sometimes feel like my whole life is arranged around my drug use?
  10. Do I feel like I can’t have fun, be normal, or complete everyday tasks without opium?
  11. Have I tried and failed to quit opium before?
  12. When I did try, did I experience withdrawal symptoms such as those listed above?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you are likely in need of professional addiction help.

Opium Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a disease that you cannot heal without the help of trained specialists. Luckily, there wonderful treatment programs available everywhere. With our assistance, you can find the perfect fit for who you are and what you want to achieve.

Perhaps you want a traditional, tough love program, or perhaps you want a program that offers a range of alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and massage. Perhaps you’d prefer a program that blends traditional and alternatives. Perhaps you have no idea what sort of treatment would benefit you most.

Whether you know exactly what you want, or you need to be guided every step of the way, our treatment advisors can direct you to the ideal treatment options for your needs.


Before you can heal, you have to get sober. That means you detoxifying your body from all addictive substances. This can be difficult to do on your own due to withdrawal symptoms.

A qualified drug and alcohol rehab will have medical professionals who are trained to lead you through detox as safely and comfortably as possible. They’ll monitor your progress and adjust treatment as needed. A doctor may even prescribe medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms.


At most treatment centers, recovery plans are customized according to each patient’s unique situation, but all of these plans will include counseling to uncover and address the issues that are perpetuating your drug use, or that prompted you to begin using drugs.

  • Individual counseling for intensive, one-on-one work
  • Family/couples counseling to work through home issues and prepare you for returning to your regular life
  • Group counseling to help you learn from the process of sharing your recovery with others who are facing the same challenges

Therapy Options

  • 12-step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous are a perennial favorite in almost all substance abuse programs. They can help you get clean while you’re in treatment, and they can help you maintain sobriety after you’re discharged.
  • Fitness and nutrition are key for healing a body and brain that has been damaged by drug use. It’s much easier to address your mental and emotional needs if you also address your physical needs.
  • Holistic options like art, equine, and nature therapy will help you address your addiction from a variety of angles, increasing your chance of success.