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Opium is the dried juice of unripe poppy seeds. It contains numerous alkaloids, i.e. psychoactive compounds, incl. morphine, codeine, thebaine. Opium has been known for centuries and was formerly used to relieve pain, as a sleep aid and intoxicating drug. Currently, they are mainly obtained to produce the stronger drugs - morphine and heroin.

Opiumhas been known since at least the nineteenth century, when it was treated as an analgesic and hypnotic agent. Even armed conflicts broke out over opium (the so-called opium wars between Great Britain and China). What is this controversial substance and how does it affect the psyche?

  1. What is opium?
  2. History of opium
  3. Opium production
  4. Dear opium administration
  5. Operation of opium
  6. Opium addiction
  7. Opium overdose

What is opium?

Opiumis a psychoactive substance obtained from opium poppy. Its narcotic properties are due toalkaloids- organic compounds of plant origin with a strong effect on the nervous system of humans and animals. It is estimated that there are at least 20 (according to other sources 50) alkaloids in the poppy seed milk from which opium is produced, including morphine, codeine, thebaine, narcotic and papaverine. Some of them are used medicinally - for example, codeine, which suppresses the cough reflex, and morphine, which works to relieve pain.

In higher doses, opium alkaloids are intoxicating and relaxing, which makes them very addictive. The most addictive potential is morphine, which is deliberately isolated from poppy seed juice, thus obtaining a pure, white substance with a bitter taste, poorly soluble in water. On its basis, in the process of acetylation, the strongest known drug is obtained - heroin.

History of opium

Opium is one of the oldest psychoactive and analgesic substances known to man. It was used for healing and ritual purposes in ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece, Persia, India and China. Opium was used as an anesthetic during surgical operations, as an analgesic and intoxicating drug - for this purpose, it was smoked while mixed with tobacco or consumed as a tincturean alcoholic drink called laudanum.

In the 19th century, opium was exported in large quantities from India to China through English merchants. Due to the growing number of addicts and increasing illegal smuggling, the Chinese emperor banned the import of opium, which led to the outbreak of the opium wars.

Worth knowing

Opium was very popular, especially in the 19th century in Europe and the USA. The drug was eagerly used by intellectuals, artists, travelers and even clergy. Opium smokers operated in large cities in the US and Victorian England. Usually these were dark, tightly closed rooms with a large mattress covered with oriental bedspreads and pillows in the center. Smoking room customers spent long hours smoking opium with a long pipe. Descriptions of the opium smoking room can be found in the pages of the greatest 19th-century novels, incl. Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle.

Opium production

Opium is obtained from poppy seed milk (juice) - a liquid substance accumulated in the milk pipes of the plant. The most fluid is in the stems and fruits (poppies). The poppy seed milk consists of sugars, proteins, lipids and alkaloids in a concentration of 15-28%. The amount of psychoactive substances depends on the properties of the soil on which the poppy grew. The opium with the highest content of the morphine alkaloid is considered the best-quality opium.

In order to extract the milk from the inside of the plant, shallow cuts are made on the green, immature poppies, from which the juice flows out. At first it is rare, whitish, then it becomes brown due to the oxidation process. Frozen fluid resembles rubber and hardens and brittle over time. It has a bitter taste and a characteristic smell. In this form, it is scraped from the poppy seed cake and dried.

Currently, the largest producer of opium in the world is Afghanistan. It is responsible for approx. 90% of the world's production of this drug. The reason for this is the low fertility of soils in Afghanistan (the poppy seed is an undemanding plant), the prevailing poverty and low agricultural culture there. The ruling Taliban are also getting richer on the production of opium, which means that for years it has been impossible to introduce restrictions on the export of drugs from this country.

Dear opium administration

Opium can be administered in several ways:

  • drinking laudanum- prepare them by pouring alcohol, spirit or water with citric acid over opium. This form of consuming the drug was popular especially in the 19th century, when opium tinctures were widely available. You could also make them for your own use. According to the original recipe for opium tincturespices were added: saffron, cinnamon and cloves.
  • smoking- still very popular in the Far East. The opium is smoked with a long pipe while inhaling the vapors of the burnt substance. You can also do this by using a piece of aluminum foil, heating the substance from underneath with a lighter flame.
  • intravenously- sterile opium mixed with citric acid and boiled is poured into a syringe and inserted into a vein. A very dangerous method due to the fact that it is impossible to predict what amount of the substance will produce the desired effect. A person who has never used drugs before, even with a few drops of the solution released into the bloodstream, can suffer severe respiratory failure and even die.

Operation of opium

Opium has a similar effect to other opiate drugs. It brings you into a state of relaxation, gives a feeling of blissful peace, endures pain and removes unpleasant thoughts. At the same time, it sharpens the senses of hearing, sight and smell. Deep relaxation causes a lack of any motivation to act - usually a person under the influence of a substance only lies and "contemplates" reality. This condition lasts from one to several hours, and then there is a strong urge to take the drug again.

Worth knowing

Opium syrup

Until the beginning of the 20th century, opium was not considered a drug at all, even though its addictive properties were known. Due to the analgesic effect and inhibiting the cough reflex, they were added, among others, for cold and various ailments syrups. In England, you could buy a syrup called Godfrey's Cordial, which contained opium, water and molasses. It was used to treat children suffering from cough, diarrhea, colic, hiccups and pleurisy. In the USA, on the other hand, Mrs. Winslow's syrup with the addition of opium has a calming effect. It was given to babies and toddlers when they were too loud or refused to sleep. In fact, it acted on the nervous system and slowed the heart rate, making it very dangerous. Its sale was not banned until 1930.

Opium addiction

Substances from the group of opiates have the greatest addictive potential among drugs. Psychological dependence after taking opium can develop after the first dose. Physical dependence usually occurs after a few or a dozen episodes of narcosis. Along with the consumption of consecutive doses, the tolerance to the substance increases, so to achieve a similar euphoric effect, the addicted person must constantly increase the amount of opium consumed.

In case of physical dependence, after skipping the daily dose of the drugwithdrawal symptoms appear. These include goose bumps, tearing, runny nose, dilated pupils, nausea, vomiting, increased blood pressure, bone and joint pain, and insomnia. The desire to avoid withdrawal symptoms forces addicts to reach for the next, ever larger doses of opium.

Opium overdose

An overdose of opium is especially dangerous when given intravenously, as it is then that the drug is most potent. Just a few drops of a substance can kill a person who has never de alt with drugs before. Contamination of the solution is an additional risk, especially if it is produced at home. The presence of dust, dirt, sand particles, which is easy to do when obtaining opium directly from poppies, significantly changes the properties of the drug, intensifying the negative effects of its action.

Symptoms of an opium overdose include: inhibition of the activity of the respiratory center in the brain, loss of consciousness, slowing of the heart rate, sudden blueness of the skin and lips.

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