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Opiates are medications that come from the plant opium and the opium poppy. Most opiates used nowadays are synthetic, but there are still opioid medications that come from the original plant. They are excellent medications for legitimate medical reasons such as pain control. They are sometimes used for other medical reasons including cough. There are some opiates in cough medicines, chronic diarrhea medication, what have you. But mainly they’re used for pain control because of the euphoric effects that they have on certain parts of the brain. It’s easy to become dependent on them. It’s easy for them to become habit-forming.
So when people come in having started to overtake their medications – in other words, taking more than their prescription recommends – or to seek opiates off of the street, then they have to be brought down slowly from high doses of opiates to taper off rather than stopping them abruptly. That is, in fact, why they continue to be used to avoid withdrawal symptoms that can occur if they were to stop abruptly. But mainly they’re legitimate chemicals that we use in medicine for treatment of discomfort and they can cause problems in that people will overtake them and become physiologically dependent on them.
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