What are opioids?

Opioids include opium, morephine, heroin, and codeine; the synthetic drugs include (meperidine) Demerol, methadone, and (propoxyphene) Darvon. All of these relax the central nervous system and have similar sleep-inducing and narcotic (pain-relieving) effects. Heroin is the most commonly abused opioid drug in the United States; there is an estimated 400,000 to 600,000 heroin addicts in the U.S. alone.

Heroin and Morphine are used as painkillers. These drugs block the pain receptors in the brain so that people do not feel pain. They also produce mental clouding, drowsiness, and euphoria. Demoral is the synthetic narcotic called meperidine. Demoral or 'demies' is now only second to morphine for use in relieving pain. Drug addicts use Demoral to replace morphine and heroin when those drugs are not available to them. There are two derivatives of morphine are hydromophone (Dilaudid or 'little D') and oxycodone (Percocet, Percodan, or 'perkies'). Dilaudid has two to eight times the painkilling effects of morphine and Percocet is similar to codeine but stronger.

Some people start out using these prescribed drugs for pain relief from an illness but gradually increase the dose on their own without permission of a doctor. Tolerance develops rapidly and people often find themselves looking for doctors to write prescriptions for them.

Symptoms of Abuse

Users take opioids because they make the user feel relaxed.

Effects of Opioid Abuse:

- users feel indifferent
- they have no feelings
- feel drowsy for two to six hours
- slur their speech
- have difficulty paying attention, remembering, and going about their normal routines

A lot of people take heroin because they like the euphoric and pain relieving effects it has on the body but there are harmful side-effects.

Heroin effects:

- users feel anxious
- fear
- sensations of warmth or heaviness
- dry mouth
- facial flushing
- nausea
- vomiting

The effects of heroin only last two to furors, addicts have to 'shoot up ' two to five times a day.

Health Risks

All most all opioid users develop drug dependence rapidly which can lead to feelings of:

- indifference
- apathy
- weight loss
- loss of sex drive
- continual effort to avoid withdrawal symptoms by injecting more drugs
- anxiety
- insomnia
- restlessness
- craving for the drug

Users keep on taking opioids to avoid going through withdrawal.You can tell when a person is high on opioids because they will experience:

- changes in mood and behavior
- euphoria followed by apathy or discontent
- impaired judgment
- constricted pupils (although pupils may dilate from a severe overdose)
- drowsiness
- slurred speech
- impaired attention or memory

Heroin users may also experience a slow down of the respiratory system and the skin may become cold, moist, and bluish. The primary cause of substance abuse deaths occur when users mix heroin and alcohol. It's a deadly combination.

Over time, opioid users who inject the drug may develop infections of the heart lining and valves, skin abscesses, and lung congestion. Infections can lead to hepatitis, tetanus, liver disease, and HIV transmission. In some cities in the Northeast, 60 to 65% of the intravenous drug users are HIV-positive.