Opium is a narcotic formed from the latex released by lacerating (or "scoring") the immature seed pods of opium poppies (Papaver somniferum). It contains up to 12% morphine, an opiate alkaloid, which is most frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade, which multiplies its potency to approximately twice that of morphine. The resin also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids, such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine.

Opium appears either as dark brown chunks or in powder form, and is generally eaten or smoked. Heroin usually appears as a white or brownish powder, which is dissolved in water for injection. Most street preparations of heroin contain only a small percentage of the drug, as they are diluted with sugar, quinine, or other drugs and substances. Other opiate analgesics appear in a variety of forms, such as capsules, tablets, syrups, elixirs, solutions, and suppositories.
Raw opium may be sold to a merchant or broker on the black market, but it usually does not travel far from the field before it is refined into morphine base, because pungent, jelly-like raw opium is bulkier and harder to smuggle. Crude laboratories in the field are capable of refining opium into morphine base by a simple acid-base extraction. A sticky, brown paste, morphine base is pressed into bricks and sun-dried, and can either be smoked, prepared into other forms or processed into heroin.

Street Names
Big O, Black stuff, Block

Routes of administration
Intravenous injection of opiates is most used: by comparison with injection, "dragon chasing" (heating of heroin with barbital on a piece of foil), and madak and "ack ack" (smoking of cigarettes containing tobacco mixed with heroin powder) are only 40% and 20% efficient, respectively.
Street users usually inject opiate solutions under the skin ("skin popping") or directly into a vein or muscle, but the drugs may also be "snorted" into the nose or taken orally or rectally.
The smoking of opium does not involve the pyrolysis of the material as might be imagined. Rather, the prepared opium is indirectly heated to temperatures at which the active alkaloids, chiefly morphine, are vaporized.

The effects of any drug depend on several factors:
•             the amount taken at one time
•             the user's past drug experience
•             the manner in which the drug is taken
•             the circumstances under which the drug is taken (the place, the user's psychological and emotional stability, the presence of other people, simultaneous use of alcohol or other drugs, etc.).
Short-term effects appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours or days. Opioids briefly stimulate the higher centres of the brain but then depress activity of the central nervous system. Immediately after injection of an opioid into a vein, the user feels a surge of pleasure or a "rush." This gives way to a state of gratification; hunger, pain, and sexual urges rarely intrude.
The dose required to produce this effect may at first cause restlessness, nausea, and vomiting. With moderately high doses, however, the body feels warm, the extremities heavy, and the mouth dry. Soon, the user goes "on the nod," an alternately wakeful and drowsy state during which the world is forgotten.
As the dose is increased, breathing becomes gradually slower. With very large doses, the user cannot be roused; the pupils contract to pinpoints; the skin is cold, moist, and bluish; and profound respiratory depression resulting in death may occur.

Physical Effects
Morphine is by far the most prevalent and important alkaloid in opium, consisting of 10%-16% of the total, and is responsible for most of its harmful effects such as lung edema, respiratory difficulties, coma, or cardiac or respiratory collapse, with a normal lethal dose of 120 to 250 —the amount found in approximately two grams of opium. Morphine binds to and activates opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, stomach and intestine. Regular use leads to physical tolerance and dependence.
Other side effects include but are not limited to: malnutrition, respiratory complications and low blood pressure.

Withdrawal Effects
Withdrawal from opioids, which in regular users may occur as early as a few hours after the last administration, produces uneasiness, yawning, tears, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, goose bumps, and runny nose. These symptoms are accompanied by a craving for the drug.
Opium Withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to: nausea, sweating, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, muscle spasms, depression, anxiety, mood swings, and insomnia.
Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and subside after a week. Some bodily functions, however, do not return to normal levels for as long as six months. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health has occasionally been fatal. Opioid withdrawal, however, is much less dangerous to life than alcohol and barbiturate withdrawal.

Overdose is usually not fatal, but is far more likely to be fatal if the person is alone. 2 out of 3 overdoses (fatal and non-fatal) occur when the person is alone at home. Heroin is not the only cause of overdose. People can become unconscious as a result of using other illicit drugs and/or alcohol. After not using or reducing use for any period of time, or while on a treatment program, a return to previous levels of use presents a high risk of overdose.

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Drug Types

Amphetamine   Opium   CAT
Cocaine   Crystal Meth   eXTACY
Hashish   Heroin   Marijuana