As a highly addictive narcotic drug, opium is extremely dangerous (even if taken in a small quantity). Many people take this drug one time and soon find they are addicted and unable to stop.
Heroin is one of the most common opium-like drugs. Not only is it highly addictive, but it continues to kill many people every year. Furthermore, it leads many people to a stint in rehab, as this is often times the only way to overcome the addiction.
Opium is derived from the poppy plant and can produce euphoric effects when smoked. According to the DEA, the drug is often refined into other drugs such as heroin, morphine or other prescription opiates that are used for the treatment of pain.
Opium has long been used to produce analgesic effects upon the user and was used hundreds of years ago by the Chinese during surgery and ritualistic events. Here is a look at some interesting facts about opium:
1. Opium withdrawal can cause a variety of symptoms, including but not limited to nausea, diarrhea, watery eyes, runny nose, insomnia, cold sweats, involuntary motion, muscle pain, yawning, be sneezing, agitation, and mood swings. If a person attempts to quit opium, especially cold turkey without medical assistance, they are sure to be faced with many withdrawal symptoms and challenges.
2. Opium or the poppy plant has been widely referenced in movies and literature but likely the most famous instance of this is the use of the poppy plants in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in which the wicked witch used them to put Dorothy & her friends to sleep before they reached the Emerald City.
3. Until the early 1900’s, there were no restrictions on the use of opium (including importing from another country) in the United States. This led to a large number of people relying on the drug, thanks in large part to the availability, and of course, the way it made them feel.
4. Opium is a Schedule II narcotic, meaning that it is illegal to sell, distribute, or purchase the drug. It is classified as a central nervous depressant. This alone shows just how dangerous the drug can be.
5. The proportion of babies born with opiate withdrawal symptoms has tripled between the year 2000 and 2009. Every one baby born in an hour suffers from neonatal abstinence syndrome because their mothers used opiates during the time of pregnancy.
6. According to The CIA, “opium production occurs in three source regions — Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, and Latin America; creating a worldwide problem. While an undetermined amount of the opium is consumed in the producing regions, a significant amount of the drug appears to be converted to heroin and sent to the primary consuming markets; Europe and North America.”
7. Opium overdose is a real concern. When a person takes too much of the drug at one time or begins to use it on a regular basis, the risk of overdosing rises. While not always the case, an overdose can kill a person. Other times, it can cause serious injury or illness.
8. Opium is a cash crop with a huge market. A farmer growing opium poppy earns $300 from 1 kg of opium which is sold to a drug dealer for $800. If the opium is converted to heroin the dealer makes a hefty $ 16,000 profit.
9. When an opiate user tries to quit taking opium, withdrawal symptoms kick in like a bad case of flu and in some cases goosebumps. This gives it the name quitting “cold turkey.”
10. Of an estimated 2 million heroin users in the United States, 600,000 to 800,000 are considered hardcore addicts. While most heroin users in the U. S. tend to be older, heroin use among younger groups has risen in recent years; due to the higher purity levels of heroin allowing it to be smoked or snorted, and making it more attractive to drug users who do not wish to inject. In addition, lower prices for heroin make the drug affordable and accessible.