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5 Facts about Opiates You Should Know

With Opiate use and abuse on the rise in the United States and around the world, there are some important things you should know about the drug that you might not know already.

5 Facts About Opiates You Should Know

1. Opiates or opioids are derivatives of opium which is from the dry milk of the poppy plant which is harvested mainly in Afghanistan, despite the fact that the United States has spent $7.5 billion to stop it’s cultivation since 2002. Afganistan is the leader in production of opium, making up for production of more than three quarters of the opiates made in the entire world. Now that there are more US troops in Afghanistan some are questioning why the numbers are still so high,causing a recent controversy as to whether our troops are actually there providing protection for their poppy fields.

opiate abuse

People who abuse prescription opiates are more likely to use illegal opiates later on.

2. Many people are prescribed opiate medications and never become addicted to them. Sometimes people are prescribed opiate medications for long periods of time to control chronic pain. Because opiates by changing chemicals in the brain, people can become addicted to the drug after longer exposure even when they only take the drug as prescribed. Treatment for these individuals can prove to be trickier because although drug treatment is necessary, their pain must still be controlled. If physical therapy isn’t a complete option, doctors must find an alternate medication, or in some cases a smaller dose of the medication will be prescribed and closely monitored.

3. People who have used opiate medications when they are not prescribed for pain are more likely to use illegal opiates, such as heroin later on. It can be difficult and expensive to get opiate medications such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet and codeine on the street and when it can’t be found or addicts can no longer afford them, they usually turn to it’s illicit alternative heroin. Heroin is sometimes easier to get now that the government has cracked down on illegal “Pill Mills” and it costs less too. Heroin use is an epidemic in the US causing 45 percent more deaths by overdose between 2006 and 2010.

4. Diseases like hepatitis and HIV/AIDS are often transmitted by sharing dirty needles, which has caused heroin users to seek alternate ways to take the drug. While it has usually been injected in the past, the newest method of using heroin is by snorting the drug instead. Another new way heroin is now used is by mixing it with water and dripping it into the nasal cavities. This is called “shebanging” Heroin can also be smoked.

5. Sadly, many babies are born addicted to opiates. At least one baby is born each hour suffering with opiate withdrawal symptoms called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) . According to NIDA at www.http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/maternal-opiate-use-newborns-suffering-opiate-withdrawal-are-rise-in-us “The proportion of babies born with NAS tripled from 2000 to 2009, when an estimated 13,539 infants were born with NAS” Babies are born with opiate withdawls when their mothers use opiates during their pregnancy.

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