Q. What are Opiates? A. Opiates are narcotic opioid alkaloids found in the opium poppy plant. There are four major biologically active opiates found in opium. They are morphine, codeine, thebaine and papaverine. Opiates and Opioids are not the same thing, though they are often confused. Q. Are Opiates the same as Opioids? A. No. The terms are often confused and "opiates" is often used mistakenly as a blanket term to include all drugs in this class. Technically, Opiates are naturally occurring alkaloids found in the opium poppy plant. Semi-synthetic opioids derived from active opiates include oxycodone, hydrocodone and hydromorphone, and all drugs synthesized from them. Q. What is the best method to detox from Opiates? A. Physical opiate dependency and opiate addiction create withdrawal once use is stopped. People who are hooked may try to stop taking opiates but find it's very difficult. Withdrawal symptoms can include strong cravings, severe flu-like symptoms, extreme agitation and irritability, tremors, and in severe cases, seizures. Some people who have abused these drugs in high dosages have even died during opiate withdrawal. Because of this, opiate detox is recommended. A program that is medically based, such as rapid opiate detox, can help eliminate patients' dependency safely and in a short amount of time. Q. What are the possible side effects of Opiates? A. All prescription medication carries a risk for side effects. For many people, they are mild and don't last long. Other may be more serious and can persist. Opiates are known to cause constipation but this can be treated. In addition, patients may experience pinpoint pupils, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, difficult breathing and sedation. If these symptoms persist or worsen in any way, talk to your doctor. He or she may decide to adjust the dosage or switch medications. Q. What is the most important information I should know about Opiates? A. Opiates can be habit forming, leading to addiction, overdose and accidental death. This medication should always be used exactly as directed. Misuse of any kind can result in serious complications. Opiates should never be used for recreational purposes. Opiates may not be the best course of treatment for people who've had prior issues with addiction or abuse. Q. What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking Opiates? A. Your doctor should know whether you are allergic to any medications and which substances you are taking because of possible interactions. These include prescription and over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, alcohol, herbal preparations, supplements and vitamins. You should also disclose if you've had prior issues with alcohol or drug abuse. Q. How should I take Opiates? A. Your doctor will prescribe the type and dosage of opiate medication that is appropriate. Follow these directions closely to avoid complications. Each prescription will include detailed guidelines for safe use and risk avoidance. Q. What happens if I miss a dose? A. Patients should never double up on dosages. This can be extremely dangerous. If you take the opiate medication on a regular schedule, the missed dose should be taken as soon as you remember. If it's almost time for your next dose, patients should not take the missed dose. Patients are advised to wait until the next regularly scheduled dose. Taking too much within a certain period of time can lead to problems such as accidental overdose. Q. What happens if I overdose? A. An overdose can occur because a patient takes too high of a dosage, abuses it in any manner or takes it with other substances that are central nervous depressants. Signs can include trouble breathing, decreased heart rate, limp muscles, cold or clammy skin, faint pulse, extreme weakness and decreased level of consciousness. Seek medical attention right away if you experience any of these symptoms. Q. What should I avoid while taking Opiates? A. Opiates depress the central nervous system. This can lead to death if opiates are taken in high doses. Other substances that have this effect can heighten the effects of opiates, resulting in possible death. Opiates should not be taken with other narcotics, alcohol, sedatives, hypnotics or tranquilizers. Other drugs may interfere with opiates. It's best to have this conversation with your doctor before you begin opiate therapy. Q. What other drugs will affect Opiates? A. There are a host of drugs that may interact with opiates and cause unwanted, even dangerous, side effects. There are hundreds of possible interactions. Prescription medications come with an informational insert. Read this, and if you are still unsure whether you should be taking opiates, talk to a doctor.