What are Opiates? - Randolph College

Substance Use Disorders
What are Opiates?
Opiates are powerful drugs derived from
the poppy plant.
They include
opium, heroin, morphine,
Opiates are still the most effective pain
relievers available to physicians for
treating pain.
When used as directed by a physician,
opiates are safe and generally do not
produce addiction.
How Do Opiates Work?
Activate Opiate Receptors
in the brain
Effects are usually
pleasure and pain relief
Opiates also act directly
on the respiratory center in
the brainstem, where they
cause a slowdown in
Heroin Paraphernalia
Heroin can be used in a
variety of ways, depending
on user preference and the
purity of the drug.
Heroin can be injected into a vein
"mainlining” injected into a muscle, smoked
in a water pipe or standard pipe, mixed in a
marijuana joint or regular cigarette,
inhaled as smoke through a straw, known as
"chasing the dragon,"
or snorted as powder via the nose.
Heroine: Health Hazards
Heroin abuse is associated with serious
health conditions, including fatal overdose,
spontaneous abortion, collapsed veins, and,
particularly in users who inject the drug,
infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and
Because of its chemical structure it penetrates
the brain more quickly than other opiates
Health Hazards Continued:
The short-term effects of heroin abuse: After an
injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a
surge of euphoria ("rush") accompanied by a warm
flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy
Following this initial euphoria, the user goes
"on the nod," an alternately wakeful and drowsy
state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to
the depression of the central nervous system.
Long-term effects of heroin appear after
repeated use.
Chronic users may develop collapsed veins,
infection of the heart lining and valves,
abscesses, boils, cellulitis, liver disease .and
pulmonary complications.
Health Hazards Continued:
In addition to the effects of the drug
itself, street heroin may have additives
that do not readily dissolve and result
in clogging the blood vessels that lead
to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain.
This can cause infection or even death of
small patches of cells in vital organs.
blood-borne bacterial infections, kidney
disease, liver disease, lung infections
track marks (scarred, collapsed veins due
to needle use), tuberculosis.
"Cheese heroin" is a highly addictive, cheap drug.
It is a blend of "Mexican black tar heroin" and
over-the-counter medications that contain
antihistamines found in products similar to
Tylenol PM.
"Cheese Heroin" is very cheap, and is marketed to
teens in middle school. Prices are as low as $2 a
hit, and $10 a gram. It causes drowsiness,
lethargy, euphoria, disorientation and excessive
thirst. "Cheese" can be snorted through a straw.
When middle school students were asked if they
knew a "cheese" dealer, almost all of them raised
their hands. They also cheered at the mention that
the US has the highest rate of drug users in the
world. It is speculated that "cheese" is as common
as pot.

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