In This Article:

A Brief Overview of Opium

  • By: Andrew Easler, Esq.
  • Published: Oct, 1 2016
  • Updated: Dec, 20 2022

Opium is Highly Addictive

Like heroin, opium is an opioid, but while heroin is a DEA Schedule I drug, opium appears lower on the list, as a Schedule II, III, and V drug. It is highly addictive, and users report that it has a very intense high. If there was ever an argument against “natural” drugs being better and healthier than synthetic drugs, then that argument is opium, as it is very dangerous and can lead to a number of serious physical and mental health problems. In this overview, we will walk you through opium’s background, what it is, how it works, and other details, such as street names and side effects. With this information, you should have a better understanding of exactly how dangerous opium is.

The Historical Background of Opium

Opium has played a prominent role throughout history across the world. The earliest recorded use of opium is from 3400 BCE, in southwest Asia by the Sumerians, who derived it from the opium poppy. There, it was called “Hul Gil”, which meant “joy plant.” Traveling Sumerians introduced Assyrians to the drug, and they, in turn, introduced it to the Egyptians. Its popularity continued to spread throughout Asia and Europe. Thanks to the Silk Road, opium was a constant factor all over Europe by the 19th century.

Details – What Is Opium?

So how is opium made, and what exactly is it? To create opium, manufacturers take unripe seed pods from opium poppies (Papaver somniferum) and slit them open. The sap from the pods then seeps out, dries, and hardens into a yellowish-brown latex. This latex, which is then scraped from the pods, is opium.

It may be surprising to some that opium is not a Schedule I drug, but because morphine and codeine can be derived from it, it does have some recognized medical uses. Why would it be added to multiple schedules, though? Essentially, the amount of opium a person is holding will determine whether a drug is Schedule II, III, or V. Thus, it is possible to have a very small amount of opium (e.g., codeine or morphine) on one’s person legally, as in the case of prescription narcotics.

Street Names for Opium

Opium is not as popular as heroin, and so it does not have as many street names. However, you may hear opium referred to as any of the following:

  • Black stuff
  • Laudanum
  • Block
  • Hop
  • Big O
  • Paregoric
  • Gum

Side Effects of Using Opium

Many of the side effects of using opium are very similar to those of heroin use. Common short- and long-term side effects include:

  • Drowsiness and/or sedation
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory depression
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Sweating
  • Seizures
  • Memory problems
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Itching
  • Delusions
  • Poorer mental health
  • Coma
  • Death

Also, because opium is highly addictive, if a user becomes addicted, they will also experience a number of withdrawal symptoms, including many of the side effects listed above, as well as others.

What Does the High From Opium Feel Like?

The high from opium is very similar to that of heroin and other opioids. Users generally feel a sense of deep euphoria and relaxation. The sense of touch is often heightened, but other senses may be dulled or otherwise affected, and response times are slowed.

Though opium is not a Schedule I drug, it is still very addictive and dangerous, and misuse and abuse of opium can lead to serious physical and mental problems. Many people with opium addictions become addicted while using prescription pain medication, so it is essential to seek help if you believe that you may be gaining a dependency on opium or any other opioids.

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