Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) is the species of plant from which opium and poppy seeds are derived. It is the source for the natural and semisynthetic narcotics, including morphine (and its derivative heroin), thebaine, codeine, papaverine, and noscapine. The seed pod of the opium poppy is the principal source of most naturally occurring opioid receptor agonist opioids. The Poppy straw is the dried mature plant except the seeds, which is also used in the production of many opiates.


The Opium Poppy plant has been used throughout history for both spiritual and medical uses. Opium was commonly used for treating asthma, stomach illnesses, and bad eyesight. Poppy extracts have traditionally been used to relax smooth muscle tone, making them potentially useful in the treatment of diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Iodized poppy seed oil (Lipiodol) is used in imaging techniques in vascular hepatocellular cancer. When Opium Poppy is pharmaceutically altered, creating medications that can be used for various medical purposes, for example codeine and morphine are sedative analgesics and can relax smooth muscle tone.

Opium Poppy and its derivatives are also used for recreational purposes. Different forms of Opium and Opiates cause an equphoric high that can be extremely addictive. Regular use of opium or other opiates can result in the individuals developing a tolerance to the drug, requiring increased amounts to achieve the desired effects. Extended use of the drug, along with increased doses can result in the individual developing a physical and psychological dependency.  When abruptly stopping the use of the drug, the individual may be overwhelmed by uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, often leading to their return to opium based drugs.

Signs and Symptoms:

The signs and symptoms of Opiate abuse varies according to the variation of the drug the individual is abusing. Often an individual struggling with an opiate addiction will show a wide array of mood, behavioral and physical symptoms which include but are not limited to:

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Euphoric mood for a few hours
  • Irritability
  • Exhaustion
  • Pain relief
  • Respiratory depression
  • Sedation
  • Muscle spasms
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

There are many behavioral changes that can be a sign of opiate addiction as well, these may include but are not limited to:

  • Forging prescriptions for opiates
  • Stealing narcotics from friends and family
  • Robbing pharmacies and other medication dispensaries
  • Not fulfilling familial and other responsibilities
  • Decreased performance at job or school
  • Preoccupation with obtaining, using, and recovering from usage of opiates
  • Lying to others to cover the amount of drug taken
  • Withdrawing from once-pleasurable activities
  • Social isolation
  • Restlessness
  • Lethargy


Most opiate addictions are severe and require the patient to undergo a strict inpatient treatment program that takes them away from temptation and puts them into an environment that promotes and supports their sobriety. While each treatment centers protocol for opiate addiction will be different, the majority offer individualized care which helps to increase the odds of the individual successfully overcoming their addiction. Common treatment services offered include but are not limited to:

  • Medical Detoxification
  • Individual Counseling
  • Group Counseling
  • Behavioral Modification Therapy
  • Family Counseling
  • Educational Lectures
  • 12-step Based Treatment