Opium, with the common name opium poppy and scientific name Papaver somniferum, is composed of many alkaloid compounds.
It is because of these alkaloids that the drug exerts an analgesic, anesthetic and addictive properties. Opium may be used in its crude form as a solid or it may used as a source of the pure form of other recreational drugs.
List of Opioids in Canada
The following are the primary opioids abused in Canada today:
Morphine is the primary alkaloidal constituent of opium accounting to up to 16 percent by mass of opium. Many of opium’s harmful effects can be attributed to the presence of morphine.
This component can cause respiratory depression, pulmonary edema, respiratory and cardiac failure, depression and even coma.
The fatal dose of morphine is between 120 to 250 mg depending on the person’s body mass index.
This amount would be equal to about to grams of the crude drug. At appropriate amounts, morphine is used in legally in medicine as a pain reliever, especially for cancer patients.
Codeine is another major constituent of opium. The percentage of codeine present in opium varies according to the place where the plant was cultivated.
Iran opium has the highest percentage of codeine, at 3.4%, even higher than those from India, Turkey and the Balkans.
Codeine may be used for its anti-cough, ant-diarrheal and analgesic properties. It may also be used as the precursor for the synthesis of medications Dihydrocodeine and Hydrocodone.
Thebaine and Papaverine
Thebaine and papaverine are the two other better known opium alkaloids.
Papaverine is used for the treatment of vasospasms, visceral spasms and sometimes, erectile dysfunction.
However, thebaine is rarely used in field of medicine and is labeled as the most poisonous alkaloid present in opium.
Image ref: Drugs.com