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Opium Tincture Abuse and Overdose

Opium Tincture Abuse and Overdose | Just Believe Recovery PA

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Opium tincture is a liquid prescription drug that consists of opium powder dissolved in alcohol (ethanol). It belongs to the opioid class of drugs. It is sometimes referred to as “laudanum” or “tincture of opium”—the latter is used in the medical community almost exclusively.

What Is Opium Tincture?

Opium tincture contains 10% opium powder by weight and 19% alcohol by volume, though some formulations may have stronger concentrations of alcohol. Historically, opium tincture would include a random smattering of different alkaloids from the opium poppy. In modern medical use, it is purer, deodorized, and contains 10 mg/mL of anhydrous morphine, which is equivalent in strength to 100 mg of raw powdered opium.

Opium tincture is available by prescription for the treatment of diarrhea and neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. As an opioid, it has some analgesic effects, though it is never prescribed for this reason in the U.S. It used to be much more widely used and available without a prescription, but nowadays, it is tightly controlled due to its risk of abuse, addiction, and overdose.

Opium Tincture Abuse and Effects

The Drug Enforcement Administration has categorized opium tincture as a Schedule II narcotic controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This designation means that it has a high potential for abuse and can cause severe physical and psychological dependence.

Although it isn’t prescribed often, opium tincture is potent and can cause euphoria when taken in high concentrations. Taking opium tincture in higher doses than prescribed or combining it with another substance, such as alcohol or cocaine, constitutes abuse. The abuse of opium tincture significantly increases the frequency of side effects and the risk of overdose.

Effects of opium tincture abuse may include the following:

  • Constipation
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Drug cravings
  • Dry mouth
  • Dysphoria (sadness)
  • Euphoria
  • Increased liver enzymes
  • Itchy skin
  • Labored breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain relief
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Poor coordination
  • Sedation

Opium Tincture Dependence and Withdrawal

Taking a substance like opium for a prolonged period results in a condition known as physical or chemical dependence. Dependence occurs because the body becomes used to the influx of chemicals that the drug provides and stops making its own chemicals. If a dependent user then attempts to quit taking the drug or cut back their dose, they will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

It’s important to remember that opium tincture also contains alcohol. And chronic abuse of alcohol will also cause dependence, especially if the user regularly drinks other alcoholic beverages while taking opium tincture.

We Believe Recovery Is Possible For Everyone.
If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse and/or treatment, please contact Just Believe Recovery PA at (888) 380-0342. Our specialists can assess your needs and help you get the treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

Opium Tincture Abuse and Overdose | Just Believe Recovery PA

Signs and symptoms of opium and/or alcohol withdrawal may include the following:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Delirium tremens (alcohol)
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid pulse
  • Runny nose
  • Seizures
  • Teary eyes
  • Tremors

Withdrawal from opium is very rarely fatal, though it can be incredibly uncomfortable. However, the seizures and delirium tremens associated with alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. As such, you should never attempt to detox from alcohol at home. Instead, if you wish to stop using either substance, you are urged to undergo a medical detox at a licensed detox facility.

Opium Tincture Overdose

It’s hard to imagine that opium tincture was once available without a prescription because it is such a potent drug. It only takes no more than three teaspoons to precipitate a lethal overdose in an individual with no tolerance to opioids.

Tincture of opium often comes in 4 oz. or 16 oz. bottles, meaning it contains no less than 8 and 32 lethal doses, respectively. In the 19th century, suicide by laudanum overdose was not uncommon.

Opium tincture causes overdose because of the morphine’s action in the central nervous system (CNS). Morphine is a CNS depressant, which means that it slows down vital functions in the body, such as heart and respiration rate.

If too much is consumed at one time, breathing can slow to perilous levels or stop altogether, causing hypoxic brain damage or death. The alcohol in the tincture is also a CNS depressant, so it amplifies these depressant effects.

Signs and symptoms of overdose on opium tincture may include the following:

  • Bluish fingernails and lips
  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Gastrointestinal spasms
  • Gurgling noise in throat
  • Limp body
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Seizures
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Uncontrollable vomiting
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Coma and death

Treatment for Opioid Abuse

Abuse of opium or any other opioid is extremely dangerous. Long-term abuse can cause dependence and withdrawal symptoms that can force an individual into a seemingly endless cycle of relapse. Opioid addiction can be a lifelong disease that wreaks havoc on the user and their loved ones. If you are struggling with addiction, seek professional help as soon as possible.

Just Believe Recovery Center offers comprehensive treatment programs in partial hospitalization and inpatient formats. Our compassionate, professional staff administer evidence-based services for recovery, including behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, group support, relapse prevention, aftercare planning, and more.

We Believe Recovery Is Possible For Everyone.
If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse and/or treatment, please contact Just Believe Recovery PA at (888) 380-0342. Our specialists can assess your needs and help you get the treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

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