Know the facts and connect with support to help you address known or suspected heroin use with your child.

    Opium is an opioid or narcotic, made from the white liquid in the poppy plant.[1]

    Typically, opium is found as a black or brown block of tar like powder. It is also available in liquid and solid forms. It can be smoked, intravenously injected, or taken in pill form.[2]

    Opium can cause euphoria, followed by a sense of well-being and a calm drowsiness or sedation.

    Understand the risks

    Opium can cause a person’s breathing to slow down, potentially to the point of unconsciousness and death with large doses. Other effects can include nausea, confusion and constipation. It also can dry out the mouth and mucous membranes in the nose.

    Use of opium with other substances that depress the central nervous system, such as alcohol, antihistamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, or general anesthetics, increases the risk of life-threatening respiratory depression.

    Long-term use can lead to drug tolerance, meaning a person needs more of the drug to get similar euphoric effects. Opium use can also lead to physical dependence and addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can occur if long-term use is reduced or stopped.[3]

    Identify & address use

    Signs of use include nausea, confusion and constipation. If you’re concerned your child may be using opium or other substances, the following can help you address the behavior and get them needed treatment.

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    What Do I Do if My Child is Using Drugs?

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    Learn How Medication Can Help Treat Opioid Addiction

    Evidence supports the use of naltrexone, buprenorphine or methadone coupled with counseling, as the preferred treatment for addiction to heroin and other opioids.
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    Opioids & IV Drug Use: Risks, Warning Signs & How to Help a Loved One

    Watch this video series to help you understand the relationship between (and risks of) opioid addiction and IV drug use, and how to best to help your child.
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    Last Updated

    May 2021

    [1]“What Are Opioids?”, US Department of Health and Human Services, 15 May 2018,
    [2]“Get Smart About Drugs.” Find Help | Get Smart About Drugs,
    [3]NIDA. “Opioids.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, , Accessed 14 Dec. 2018.
    Additional Sources:
    “Opium.” DEA,