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Three Myths About Opium

Three Myths About Opium

A common misconception about opium is that it can only be used by smoking it

Opium is a drug derived from the poppy plant that has been abused for centuries for its physical and psychological effects. However, the availability of other drugs has led to a decrease in the popularity of opium among drug users. Because pure opium is not used as commonly as other drugs, many people are unfamiliar with what opium is, how it is used, and what dangers come with it. This unfamiliarity has resulted in the development of several myths about opium. The following are three common myths about opium and its use.

Opium Is Not as Dangerous as Other Drugs

Many people are under the impression that opium is not as dangerous as other drugs like heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. This myth usually stems from a lack of knowledge about the many effects of opium. The use of this drug can be just as dangerous as other drugs and could even result in serious health consequences. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), an overdose on opium can result in the following effects:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Death

Additional overdose symptoms may include confusion, vomiting, slowed heart rate and clammy skin. When overdose is suspected, it should be treated as a medical emergency. Waiting too long to obtain emergency treatment can result in life-threatening respiratory arrest.

The risks of opium are not limited to overdose. Long-term opium abuse can lead to additional side effects including constipation, sexual dysfunction, sleep disturbances, heart damage and addiction.

Smoking Opium Is the Only Way to Use it

Another common misconception about opium is that it can only be used by smoking it. This myth stems mainly from the stereotypical image of people smoking from pipes in 19th century opium dens. Though most opium users do use the drug by inhaling its smoke, many others use alternative forms of administration. For example, many people mix opium in its powder form with liquids to drink. Others may use poppy seedpods to make a tea. When opium is ingested in this way, rather than smoking, the associated risks may be different. While smoking may act as an irritant to the lungs, drinking an opium mix can induce intense nausea and vomiting. Injection is another common method of taking opium, which has its own risks. Those injecting the drug are more likely to overdose and are at risk of injection-acquired infections like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis.

Only Weak People Become Addicted to Opium

When most people think of opium addicts, they picture a person who has no job and no close friends because of his addiction. They often assume the opium addict is mentally weak. However, addiction can affect any person and is not related to weakness or moral failing. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), addiction develops out of a combination of factors. These include biological factors like gender and ethnicity, environmental factors like stress and socioeconomic status, and developmental factors like age. This means that even the strongest of people can fall into addiction if they have the right risk factors and abuse drugs like opium.

Get Help for Opium Addiction

If you or a loved one has become addicted to opium, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatments for opium addiction.