Opiates are narcotics, and drugs in this category tend to make the user feel sleepy (downers), as opposed to energized (uppers). Many are powerful and can severely “numb” the user.
As medication, opiates are used to relieve moderate to severe pain. The term opiate refers to any of the narcotic alkaloids found in opium, as well as all derivatives of such alkaloids.
Common Opiate Use
People with chronic pain, cancer, or who are recovering from surgery may be prescribed these medications. Opiates include such prescription medications as:
What is Opiate Addiction?
A person has an opiate addiction when they develop a dependence on the medication. They continue to take the medication to avoid going through opiate withdrawal symptoms or because they want to continue to experience the euphoric effects of the drug.
Signs of Opiate Dependence
Signs of addiction to opiates include:
- Having to take larger doses of the medication to get the desired effect
- Spending a lot of time focusing on the drug, using it and being able to take it again and again
- Depression and/or suicidal thoughts
- Unkempt physical appearance, including weight loss in some cases
- Social withdrawal
- Causes of Dependency
Opiate addicts in Pennsylvania get hooked on the medication because of the way it acts on the user’s brain. If the drug is used regularly and to excess, the brain stops producing natural painkillers called endorphins. As a result, the person who is addicted to opiates experiences a physical dependence on the drug.