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    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 as well as in solid forms. It can be smoked, intravenously injected, or taken in pill form.[2]

    This substance can induce a state of euphoria, characterized by a sense of well-being, as well as 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 include nausea, confusion and constipation. Use of the drug may dry out the mouth as well as the mucous membranes in the nose.

    Use 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 a drug tolerance, meaning that a person will need to consume more of the drug in order to get similar euphoric effects. It 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 are that concerned your child may be using opium or other substances, the following resources can help you address the behavior and get them needed treatment.

    In the event of an opioid overdose (including heroin and prescribed pain medications), naloxone can reverse an overdose and save a life.
    It can be scary if your child is using drugs or alcohol, and it's important to confront it. We're here to give you tips and strategies on how to do it.
    Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) help treat opioid use disorder by reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings and helping to prevent relapse. As part of a comprehensive treatment plan, it is considered the gold standard of care.
    Learn more
    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

    October 2023

    [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,