Opium Study Sheet

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Opium Study Sheet

Opium
General term for all opiates
Opiate
Any alkaloid found in the opium poppy plant
Alkaloid
Organic compound containing basic nitrogen atoms
Opium poppy plant
Also known as common garden poppy
Produces poppy seeds
Grows large green pods before blooming
If cut, latex leaks out
Once latex dries (oxidizes) it becomes smokeable tar
This tar is what the Chinese bought and what caused the opium wars Refined raw opium
Morphine
Always present in opium
Pure morphine created by cooking opium with several chemicals including lye and ammonia Morphine is the world’s go-to pain killer for severe pain
Affect on Brain
Morphine mimics endorphins
Endorphins
Feel-good chemicals naturally-manufactured in the brain when the body experiences pain or stress (Natural opiates of the body) Inhibit neurons from firing therefore eliminating bad feelings Plugs into endorphin receptors

Released in instances such as exercise, labor, or when stressed Leads to euphoria and analgesia
Morphine is usually more powerful because have control of when to use it Leads to addiction
Addiction
Reward Pathway (Limbic System)
Very Addictive
Parts of brain involved
Limbic System
Thalamus
Hypothalamus
Amygdala
Hippocampus
In cerebellum
Prefrontal Cortex
How it’s made-
Opium is the white latex substance exuded from from the opium poppy, when they are slit open at harvest time. When dried, it turns brown (oxidizes) and becomes sticky and hard (from water loss.) People smoke this alone, or process it further into morphine base. The poppy species that contains opium is Papaver somniferum.

Morphine is one of many different chemicals present in raw opium (codiene, morphine, papaverine, and others are all naturally occuring in opium.) Morphine is refined by cooking raw opium with chemicals like lye, and ammonia. Pure morphine is the world standard of painkillers, and generally the number one choice of doctors for treating severe pain.

Heroin (diamorphine) is morphine that has been even further refined via chemical reaction with acetic anhydride. It is roughly twice as potent as morphine, and it crosses the blood-brain barrier much more quickly then morphine, when injected. This rapid onset causes the "rush" that people speak of when using heroin.

Heroin is a legal painkiller in the UK and other parts of the world, but it is still illegal in the US. At one point, in the late 1800's, it was an OTC drug, available at any drugstore without a prescription. In fact, it was touted as a non-addictive cure for "the soldier's disease-" morphine addiction. It was quickly realized that heroin was even more addictive, and it was thus banned.

How it feels-
The first intravenous injection of heroin can be extremely unpleasant, causing vomiting and nausea. Often this experience is enough to scare someone away, but social and psychological pressures may motivate a person to keep trying. After a few more uses, the beneficial effects are obvious. Some users have distinguished between the "rush" and the "high." The rush lasts only one or two minutes and is said to be caused by the injected heroin bathing the brain before it gets distributed by the bloodstream and changed into a more useable form of morphine. The rush is often described as a heightened sexual orgasm, and a great relief of tension, which pervades the abdomen. After the rush, the high lasts for four or five hours and is caused by the morphine diffusing from the bloodstream into the brain. It is described as a warm, drowsy, cozy state. Addicts report a profound sense of satisfaction, as though all needs were fulfilled. There is also a pleasant state of mild dizziness that is not as impairing as alcohol's effects, and a sense of 'distancing' or apathy toward whatever is going on in the environment.

Interesting Fact-
Some addicts lose the effect of euphoria, and use heroin only for relief of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Since all opiates produce...
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