What Is Opium?

Opium is a highly addictive narcotic drug acquired in the dried latex form from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) seed pod. Traditionally the unripened pod is slit open and the sap seeps out and dries on the outer surface of the pod. The resulting yellow-brown latex, which is scraped off of the pod, is bitter in taste and contains varying amounts of alkaloids such as Morphine, Codeine, Thebaine and Papaverine.

Opium for illegal use is often converted into heroin, which is less bulky, making it easier to smuggle, and which multiplies its potency to approximately twice that of morphine. Heroin can be taken by intravenous injection, intranasally, or smoked (vaporized) and inhaled.

The production of opium itself has basically not changed since ancient times. However, through selective breeding of the Papaver Somniferum plant, the content of the phenanthrene alkaloids Morphine, Codeine, and to a lesser extent Thebaine, has been greatly increased. In modern times, much of the thebaine, which often serves as the raw material for the synthesis for Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, and other semi-synthetic opiates, originates from extracting Papaver Orientale or Papaver Bracteatum.

Overview

Opium is a natural substance found in the poppy plant Papaver Somniferum

Appearance

A sticky yellowish residue that is scraped off the poppy plant and later used to produce variation of the drug

Street Names

Ah-pen-yen, Aunti, Aunti Emma, Big O, Black pill, Buddha, Chandoo, Chandu,Chinese molasses, Chinese tobacco, Cruz, Dopium, Dover’s deck, Dover’s powder, Dream gun, Dream stick, Dreams, Easing powder, Fi-do-nie, Gee, God’s medicine, Gondola, Goric, Great tobacco, Guma, Hop/hops, Joy plant, Midnight oil, MirA, O, O.P., Ope, Pen yan, Pin gon, Pin yen, Pox, Skee, Toxy, Toys, When-shee, Yen Shee, Suey, Ze, Zero

Routes of Administration

Opium can be smoked, ingested orally, intravenously, or crushed and snorted

Short-term Effects

  • constipation
  • warmth, tingling, or redness under the skin
  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite
  • dizziness, headache, anxiety
  • memory problems
  • insomnia
  • shallow breathing
  • slow heartbeat
  • seizure (convulsions)
  • cold, clammy skin
  • confusion
  • severe weakness or dizziness
  • feeling light-headed
  • fainting

Long-term Effects

  • Severe respiratory depression
  • Skeletal muscle flaccidity
  • Reduction in blood pressure and heart rate
  • Coma
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Death