Drug Class: Opium > Opioid Agonist > Analgesic.

Opium is a highly addictive narcotic. A doctor may prescribe opium tincture as a remedy for diarrhea. Illicit use of opium is the manufacture and use of heroin. Learn More About Opium Uses

Other, off label uses for this medicine

A dilute tincture of opium may be used as an initial treatment to relieve withdrawal symptoms in newborn babies born to mothers with opiate dependence issues. Opiates, when given along with sedatives and supportive treatments like swaddling, massages, relaxation baths and pacifiers seem to be more effective than other drugs to reduce the incidence of seizures and duration of treatment for the infant. More Off-Label Uses for Opium


Opium is a legal prescription drug available in two forms: opium tincture and paregoric. Paregoric is the brand name for anhydrous morphine, a derivative of opium. Take special care when choosing opium products: opium tincture and paregoric are not interchangeable. Opium tincture contains 25 times more morphine than paregoric. If given in equivalent mL doses, opium tincture may result in a potentially fatal overdose.

Each 5 ml teaspoon of paregoric contains 2 mg of anhydrous morphine. The dose for adults with diarrhea is one to two teaspoons one to four times each day.

Opium tincture liquid contains 10 mg of anhydrous morphine in every milliliter of liquid. Take 0.6 mL opium tincture up to four times a day to control diarrhea. You may take opium tincture on an empty stomach or with food. If opium tincture gives you an upset stomach, take with food.

Children should not use opium tincture. Children with diarrhea may take 0.25 to .05 mL per kg of body weight one to four times each day.

Opium tincture may be diluted so that the morphine content is similar to paregoric to reduce risk of dosing errors.

If you miss a dose of opium tincture, skip the missed dose and take another dose when it is time. Never double up on opium tincture in an effort to make up for missing doses.

Use an approved measuring device when administering a dose of opium tincture or paregoric. You can purchase a dosing syringe, spoon or cup from your pharmacist or local drug store.

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Opium contains morphine, which is readily absorbed from the digestive system. Opiates work to control diarrhea by increasing the smooth muscle tone and decreasing fluid secretions in the intestines in such a way that reduces the speed at which content moves through the bowels. Opium preparations are frequently given alongside other anti-diarrhea medications kaolin and pectic, otherwise known as Kaopectate. More About How Opium Works


Tell your doctor if you are allergic to Opium or any other medication, especially if you have allergies to other narcotic drugs.

Do not take opium products if you are having an asthma attack or if you have ever had the bowel obstruction disorder known as paralytic ileus. Avoid opium products if you suffer from hypoxia or other serious breathing problems.

Do not take opium preparations if you have ever had a head injury, brain tumor or other medical disorder that resulting in increased cranial pressure. Talk with your doctor about any major digestive or abdominal problems. Elderly or debilitated patients or a person with impaired kidney or liver function, hypothyroidism, Addison 's disease, enlargement of the prostate or narrowing of the urethra should use caution when using opium.

Before taking opium preparations, tell your doctor if you have digestive problems like bloody diarrhea, diarrhea with fever, diarrhea caused by taking antibiotics, inflammatory bowel disease or toxic megacolon. Your doctor may prescribe alternative anti-diarrhea medication if you have asthma or other breathing disorders, a history of liver or kidney disease, a seizure disorder, enlarged prostate, urination problems or a history of drug or alcohol addiction.

Opium tincture and paregoric products may impair your thinking or make you drowsy. Do not engage in risky behavior or dangerous activities while taking opium products. Avoid driving a car or operating heavy machinery until you know how your system reacts to opium.

Do not consume alcohol while taking opium tincture or paregoric. Drinking alcohol while taking opium tincture or paregoric may result in serious side effects or even death. Check for alcohol on the labels on all foods, beverages and medications.

This drug can be habit-forming, especially if you take it for long periods of time.

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Do not use opium tincture to relieve diarrhea caused by poisoning. Wait until all toxic material has cleared your system before using opium tincture.

Paregoric should only be given to pregnant women when absolutely necessary. It is not clear if opium tincture or paregoric harms a fetus or causes infertility problems. Morphine from paregoric passes into breast milk. Use paregoric cautiously when breastfeeding.

Stopping opium tincture or paregoric use suddenly may cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Whenever possible, wean yourself from opium tincture or paregoric by taking smaller doses further apart. If you cannot comfortably stop using opium tincture or paregoric, consult with your doctor or qualified in-patient or out-patient rehabilitation center. More Warnings About Using Opium

Drug Interactions

The morphine in opium preparations may have a depressant effect when combined with other narcotic analgesics, general anesthetics, phenothiazines, tranquilizers, sedatives, hypnotics or other CNS depressants, including alcohol.

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Side effects

You may experience side effects while taking opium tincture or paregoric. Common side effects include lightheadedness, dizziness, sedation, nausea, and vomiting. Consult your doctor if your side effects become severe or do not go away.

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If you suspect that you or someone you know has taken an overdose of opium tincture or paregoric, seek emergency assistance immediately. Contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 or go to the emergency room. While at the hospital, you can expect emergency, life-saving treatments including activated charcoal, artificial respiration, fluids, laxatives, medicine to lower opium tincture or paregoric levels in the blood, medicine to reverse the effect of the opium tincture or paregoric or a tube through inserted the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach. Overdose symptoms include:

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Pinpoint Pupils.
  • Cool and Clammy Skin.
  • Slow, Shallow Breathing.
  • Breathing that has Stopped.
  • Central Nervous System Depression.
  • Slow Heart Beat.
  • Low Blood Pressure.
  • Flaccid Muscles.
  • Low Blood Sugar.
  • Collapse of the Circulatory System.
  • Cardiac Arrest.
  • Death.

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Opium is a Schedule II drug, which means it carries a significant risk for abuse and physical as well as psychological dependence. Pharmaceutical companies legally manufacture opium tincture or paregoric for licit use as a pain reliever but abusers obtain opium tincture or paregoric through forged prescriptions, bogus prescription call-ins to pharmacies, "doctor shopping" as well as theft from pharmacies and friends. Read More About Opium Abuse


You may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking opium tincture or paregoric, especially if you have been using high doses or taking the opioid for a long period of time. Patients taking therapeutic doses for as little as one to two weeks have exhibited mild withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms vary in intensity from person to person. Withdrawal is a normal, predictable, physical sign of dependency, not necessarily a sign of willful abuse. Signs of dependence include complaints, pleas, demands or manipulative actions intended to gain a dose of opium before it is scheduled. Withdrawal symptoms may prevent you from quitting opium tincture or paregoric without the help of a doctor or qualified rehabilitation specialist. More about Opium Withdrawal


Dependency and addiction to opium is often difficult to overcome on your own, especially if you have been taking large doses or using these opioids for a long time. Fortunately, there are in-patient and out-patient treatment facilities where trained professionals can minimize withdrawal symptoms, detoxify your body and give you the tools you need to live drug-free. Detoxification, rehabilitation and counseling are effective therapies to treat addiction to opium and other opiates.

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Protect opium tincture and paregoric from excessive heat and moisture. Keep these medicines at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The product may deposit sediment if exposed to low temperatures. Do not keep this drug in your bathroom or car. Store opium products away from children, pets and adults who might accidently or purposefully consume the drug. Do not share opium tincture or paregoric with others, especially with individuals with a history of alcohol or drug abuse. Keep track of your narcotic medications, taking note of any missing doses.

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Miscellaneous information

Opium is acquired by using a knife to make a slit in an unripe seed pod of the opium poppy plant, whose scientific name is Papaver somniferum. The sap seeps out from the slit and dries on the outer surface of the pod. The dried product is yellowish-brown latex which is then scraped from the pod. This latex contains varying amounts of alkaloids such as morphine, codeine, thebaine and papaverine. Heroine is made from morphine alkaloids derived from opium latex; heroine is two to three times more potent than opium. Miscellaneous Information About Opium