Opioids. With all the talk it can get confusing.
We are glad you found yourself here. We have worked hard to not disappoint.
If you are here because you are thinking of quitting, then you are in the right place.
If you are here to learn more, then you are also in the right place.
Hopefully, we can help to alleviate some of your worries. We will give you a full understanding of opioids and what they do, where they come from, and what it takes to quit using. After all, you are here to learn and we intend on helping you do just that.
Where do Opioids Come From?
That is a great question. Actually, this term has evolved with time. The term opioid started off as a sub-group to the drug opiate. An opiate was traditionally used to describe natural substances from opium. Let’s have a bit of a botany lesson to understand where this highly addictive drug comes from.
The poppy seed plant is where it all starts. The poppy plant grows in dry climates throughout the world. After about three months from planting, the poppy plant sprouts bright colored flowers.
These flowers are not opium themselves. The flowers bloom and stay on the stem for a few months. As a matter of fact, petals from the poppy plant are very beautiful. If you can remember back in the day to the movie The Wizard of Oz? The writer of the movie makes reference to these beautiful flowers. The wicked witch of the west puts a spell onto Dorothy and the gang. The spell takes effect in a field of poppy plant flowers. The wicked witch says, “…something with poison in it. But attractive to the eye and soothing to the smell…poppies.” Once Dorothy enters the field she falls asleep. Not to mention her friends fall asleep also. The writer of the movie is making a comment to the poppy. He is showing the sedative effects of opium without showing the opium.
After the petals fall off the green stem a bulb remains. This bulb is what contains the poppy seeds. In fact, the same seeds are used to make poppy seed muffins! But don’t worry the seeds themselves aren’t dangerous.
Opium To Opioids
The grower lets the petals leave the bulb completely. The bulb not only contains seeds. It also contains a white opaque sap-like liquid. That is opium in its raw form. The bulbs are then cut with a special knife to let the liquid seep out. The liquid then hardens and turns a brownish-red color.
The reddish-brown gum is then sold to people who turn opium into morphine. The gum is mixed with lime and boiled. The leftover is the crudest form of an opiate morphine. This type of morphine has been used for hundreds of years. Many of the Hindu cultures would use this substance to smoke for the good feelings. In addition to this, they would use it as a medicine for pain relief.
Morphine will go through processing using ammonium and the end result is heroin. Heroin is a form of opiate that is highly addictive. This was used recreationally and medicinally for many years. In 1916, German scientists created a more refined form of heroin called oxycodone. Today oxycodone is considered an opioid, but at that time it was an opiate.
How Do Opioids Work?
Opiate was the term to identify any substance that is derived from the poppy plant. Opioid was used to categorize any synthetic form of opiate. This separation lasted for a few years then when the FDA approved oxycodone 1950 to be used the term opioid became widely used. Today opioid is used to categorize all forms of drugs that affect the opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for the feelings of pain relief and well being that occurs when taking opioids.
Today we have many forms of opioids in the market. Here is a list of some opioids:
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin®, Hycodan®)
- Oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percoset®)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid®)
- Fentanyl (Duragesic®)
Opioids are used for two purposes. First, they are for pain relief. Second, people abuse them for their euphoric effects. There are many forms of taking opioids. Some people take it in pill form (usually prescribed by their doctor for pain). It can also be crushed into a powder and mixed with a liquid to be injected. In addition, some people will smoke the powder or use it in their vaporizer. Whatever the method of intake it does the same thing. The drug attaches itself onto the brains opioid receptors.
Once the drug attaches to the brains opioid receptors the effects occur. The person will feel pain relief and a sense of euphoria. Opioids also cause addiction to occur in people. However, not all people become addicted if they monitor their intake and only use it as prescribed. Once the prescription is over…it is over and the user needs to stop in order to not fall into addiction.
There is the instance where you become addicted. Your brain has become accustomed to the drug and wants more. The euphoric feeling is very desirable and most people will do anything to get that feeling back. This is a very dangerous path and can lead to death. When high amounts of opioids are in your body your breathing and heart rate will slow down to a point where death occurs.
Before this happens it is very important that you seek help. The first step to coming off of opioids is detoxing.
How Opioid Detox Works
Opioid Detox is the first step to fully recovering from opioid use. It is very important that it is done in a medical setting. The opioid withdrawals can be very unpleasant if not treated properly. The usual process of opioid withdrawals occurs soon after taking your last drug. The withdrawal symptoms will set in. The withdrawal symptoms are the following:
- muscle aches
- lacrimation (eyes tearing up)
- runny nose
- excessive sweating
- inability to sleep
- yawning very often
More intense symptoms begin after the first day or so. They include:
- abdominal cramping
- goosebumps on the skin
- nausea and vomiting
- dilated pupils and possibly blurry vision
- rapid heartbeat
- high blood pressure
In a medical detox setting these withdrawal symptoms will be minor. The experience of detoxing from opioids can be as slow or as quick as you want. It all depends on the program you choose. Here at White Tree Medical, we provide outpatient medical detox. The program is set up to help a person detox. The person will detox on an outpatient basis. This means they can continue in life without having to go into a hospital.
The program itself is 35 days and has proven very effective for people. Detoxing doesn’t have to be scary, it can be a hopeful first step to recovery. The staff at White Tree Medical work very hard to make it easy for you. Also, we work hard to make it a pleasant experience. If you or someone you know is considering detoxing please call us. We are here to help. Our promise is to provide you with excellence in care.