What is Opium?

What is opium, you ask? Well, opium is a narcotic, or opioid derived from the poppy plant. Opium typically takes the appearance of black or brown tar-like powder. It may otherwise be found in solid or liquid forms. Opium users tend to smoke, inject, or ingest the substance in pill form. The effects of opium abuse can be seriously intense.

Opium is classified as a depressant drug, meaning it slows down the communication between the brain and body. The mentioned poppy plant holds pods that contain various chemicals. Some of the chemicals include codeine and morphine

Opium is highly addictive as it shares similar qualities as methadone, fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. Individuals who abuse substances like opium typically require specialized treatment as the drug causes major dependency and withdrawal issues. 

Side Effects of Opium

There is a wide range of effects of opium. In some cases, opium use can slow breathing down so much that it can lead to unconsciousness and death. Other common effects of opium include confusion, constipation, and nausea. Opium is also known to dry out the mouth and mucous membranes. 

Respiratory depression is one of the other effects of opium use. Other substances that cause these issues may include benzodiazepines, barbiturates, alcohol, antihistamines, or general anesthetics. 

There is no safe level of opium use. Using any substance presents health risks, at the very least. The effects of opium use, in particular, can vary depending on an individual’s:

  • Weight and overall health
  • Regularity of use
  • Other drugs are taken simultaneously
  • Amount taken
  • Strength of the particular batch of opium

Short-term effects of opium often include:

  • Relaxation
  • Euphoria
  • Lower heart rate
  • Analgesia
  • Impaired reflexes
  • Shallow breathing
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite

Long-term effects of opium often include:

  • Increased tolerance – requiring more of the substance to achieve the desired effect
  • Difficulty having children, irregular menstruation
  • Constipation
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Dependence

Overdosing on Opium

Large amounts of opium can lead to overdose and even death. Since using opium causes an increase in tolerance, regular opium use can become highly dangerous. This is mainly because the dose of opium needed to then achieve the desired high can become even more toxic to the body. If you are experiencing or witnessing an opium overdose, it is vital to call an ambulance immediately. 

Opium overdose symptoms include:

  • Extremely slow breathing
  • Tiny pupils
  • Loss of consciousness

Untreated overdose on any substance can lead to detrimental brain damage and death in many cases. 

Opium Withdrawal 

After long-term opium use, emotional dependency occurs. In addition, and even potentially more difficult to overcome, physical dependency also takes place. The body adapts to opium consumption and can eventually become dependent on it. Therefore, stopping opium use can prove both emotionally and physically challenging. 

Opium withdrawal symptoms typically take place between six and 24 hours following the last dose. These symptoms can last up to ten days in most cases. Opium withdrawal symptoms have been compared to those of the flu or similar illnesses. Withdrawal symptoms keep users in a cycle of using substances though because the body is constantly trying to avoid withdrawal

Opium withdrawal symptoms include: 

  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Depression
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Restless sleep
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle cramping
  • Fast heart rate 

Heroin Abuse

Heroin is derived from an alkaloid found in opium and can be up to three times more potent. This substance is an extremely addictive drug that exhibits euphoric and analgesic central nervous system properties. 

The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified heroin as a Schedule I drug. Therefore, it has no acceptable medical use within the United States. 

Heroin generally can be found as a white bitter powder. Users of heroin are constantly at the risk of overdose or death since it is almost impossible to know the strength or true contents of the drug. 

Heroin can be smoked, snorted, orally ingested, or intravenously injected. Injecting heroin into one’s body produces the most intense rush. As a result, injecting heroin is the preferred method of use for most addicts. 

Any heroin use is highly challenging to overcome. In most cases, heroin addiction can’t be overcome alone. Thus, specialized treatment is necessary to overcome heroin addiction. 

Short-Term Effects of Heroin

  • Flushed skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Itching
  • Clouded thinking
  • Heavy arms and legs feeling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nodding in and out of consciousness 

Long-Term Effects of Heroin

  • Damaged veins from injection
  • Insomnia
  • Damaged nasal tissue from snorting
  • Pus-filled tissue, abscesses 
  • Cramping and constipation
  • Heart lining and valve injections
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Pneumonia and other lung issues
  • Mental issues, such as depression and other disorders
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Sexual dysfunction in men

Heroin and Opium Addiction Treatment

There is no cure for addiction. However, opium addiction treatment has helped many people recover and live healthy and fulfilling lives. At Florida Center for Recovery, we offer several treatments that have proven to be life-changing. We can help you determine which forms of treatment and programs will best fit your circumstances. The type of treatment generally depends on the individual though, the substance the individual is addicted to, and any other co-occurring medical conditions that he or she is suffering from. 

We utilize both behavioral therapy and medical techniques to restore normalcy to the body and mind. Studies continually show that combining these two forms of treatment puts people in the best position to have successful, long-term recovery. 


Detox is typically the first and most important step for anyone quitting substance use. When it comes to opium and heroin, detoxification is vital. Detox refers to the period in which the body and mind rid themselves of substance-related toxins. This step helps people prepare for inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation. 

For individuals with severe addictions, we here at Florida Center for Recovery also offer a medication-assisted detoxification program. In this program, specialized medication can help dampen withdrawal symptoms so individuals can focus completely on their recovery instead of the difficulties of their symptoms. Medication can also help curb cravings, which can be beneficial through the withdrawal and treatment process. 

Medication Treatment

Three types of medication are used in opium addiction treatment. These medications include:

  • Agonists- This medication activates opioid receptors in the brain. One agonist used in treatment is called methadone. Methadone is used each day and is available through outpatient programs. 
  • Partial agonists- Similarly to agonists, partial agonists activate opioid receptors in the brain, but they cause a partial response. One partial agonist used in treatment is called buprenorphine. Buprenorphine helps reduce drug cravings without causing the side effects of an agonist.
  • Antagonists – Antagonists block the receptor. This essentially prevents the reward and desirable effects of heroin. One antagonist used in treatment is called naltrexone

Behavioral Therapy

Another aspect of opium addiction therapy is behavioral therapy. While taking care of the medical aspect of recovery, at Florida Center for Recovery, we understand the importance of also taking care of the emotional and psychological aspects of recovery. 

Behavioral therapy is a vital component of both inpatient and outpatient treatment. Common behavioral therapies used in opium addiction therapy include the following:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients understand and adjust their behaviors and expectations when it comes to drug use and recovery. CBT focuses on developing skills for coping with stress. Consequently, stress is a major factor when it comes to relapse. Therefore, we ensure that our clients develop as many tools as possible to manage stress and fight off relapse.

Contingency Management (CM)

Contingency management uses a reward system to encourage clients to attend group meetings and more. Clients earn points from producing clean drug tests and other healthy behaviors. At Florida Center for Recovery (FCR), we offer points for healthy and productive activities like eating healthily and attending gym sessions.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy refers to one-on-one sessions where the patient has private time with a licensed and experienced substance abuse therapist. During these sessions, clients are encouraged to work through trauma or other aspects of their lives that may lead to addictive or other unhealthy behaviors. Individual therapy is one of the most vital practices within addiction therapy. 

Group Therapy

Group therapy refers to group sessions with a licensed and experienced substance abuse therapist. These sessions can be beneficial as it creates a real-world environment where participants must interface and deal with triggers. Participants can also benefit from helping each other work through difficult topics and situations. 


Within recovery, relapse is always a possibility. Heroin and opium addiction treatment are challenging and stressful. 

Relapse is not the absolute end of the world. Addiction professionals consider relapse to be a bump in the road on the way to recovery and sobriety. 

Relapse rates within addiction treatment are typically around 50%. Therefore, relapse does not mean failure. It simply means that you should adjust and reevaluate your treatment. That way your treatment is similar to other treatments of chronic diseases.

Recovery is Possible Through Florida Center for Recovery

Heroin and opium addiction are serious conditions. However, people can overcome such conditions and achieve recovery. If you or someone you love is dealing with substance addiction, understand that there is help right around the corner. Through our addiction treatment programs and therapies here at FCR, recovery is possible and so is a healthy lifestyle.

Opium addiction treatment at Florida Center for Recovery is provided by experienced and licensed addiction treatment professionals. We cater our treatment specifically to each client’s needs. If you would like more information about Florida Center for Recovery and our addiction treatment services, please give us a call today.