Poppy Tea Addiction

Addiction to opioid drugs is a growing problem in the United States. Currently, there are approximately 1.9 million Americans addicted to prescription opioids, such as hydrocodone and morphine, and another 329,000 people addicted to heroin.

While opioids such as heroin and hydrocodone are the most commonly abused drugs in America, some individuals are addicted to lesser-known opioid drugs, such as poppy tea.

General Information about Poppy Tea

Humans began to use opium to relieve pain or cause euphoria before recorded history. Opium is labor-intensive. Opium producers cut a slit in the immature fruits of the living poppy plant, Papaver somniferum, so the oium-rich latex leaks out and dries. The producer returns the next day to scrape off the dried latex, known as raw opium.

Opium contains many alkaloids that have analgesic powers, including codeine, morphine and thebaine. Scientists call these raw alkaloids "opiates." Pharmacologists further refine these opiates into opioids, including hydrocodone and hydromorphone.

Poppy tea is an infusion brewed from the seeds of the poppy plant or dried "poppy straw." Cultivating poppy straw requires less labor and is mostly a mechanized process. The poppy plants are allowed to mature fully before a machine harvests the entire field. Workers separate the ripe seeds by threshing the whole plant; whatever is left is the poppy straw.

Makers steep the seeds and straw in hot water and mix in other chemicals to draw the psychoactive alkaloids from the poppy plant into the liquid. Potency varies between poppy plants and differences in preparation, so there is no standardized dose for poppy tea.

Modern day users consume poppy tea to curb diarrhea, relieve pain or to get high. Poppy tea, known as "Koknar" in Eastern Europe, is included in certain social ceremonies and gatherings.

Poppy tea, like other opioids, works directly on the central nervous system, or CNS, to relieve pain or cause euphoria. Opioids also work on the smooth muscle groups, like those in the digestive tract, to slow diarrhea. As a result, side effects and withdrawal symptoms associated with poppy tea will involve the nervous and gastrointestinal systems.

Abuse, Dependence and Addiction

While poppy tea is not as popular as hydrocodone or heroin, poppy tea is associated with abuse, physical dependence and addiction. Opium contains large amounts of the opiate drugs morphine and codeine, associated with significant risk for abuse.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, classifies substances according to their relative potential for abuse. A schedule I drug, such as heroin or PCP, has a higher potential for abuse than a schedule V, like Robitussin AC. The DEA classifies all poppy products as schedule II narcotics, meaning poppy tea carries the same risk for abuse as its components, codeine and morphine.

Anyone can become addicted to poppy tea. Consuming strong preparations or using poppy tea for a long time increases the risk for addiction.

The Definition of Addiction

Addiction is a neurological disease that disrupts the function of the brain's reward, motivation and memory circuits. Dysfunction in these neurological circuits causes certain telltale physical, psychological, social and behavioral changes. Behavioral characteristics of poppy tea addiction include craving and drug-seeking activities.

Addiction is a primary disease, meaning it arises by itself and not as the result of another condition. Addiction is a chronic condition, often involving several cycles of remission and relapse. As a chronic disease, addiction requires long-term, professional treatment. Without such treatment, addiction is a progressive disease that can result in disability or premature death.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine offers a detailed and complete definition of addiction. "Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors."

Addiction versus Dependence

Addiction and dependence are closely related through poppy tea abuse but these two conditions are separate and independent of one another. A person can be addicted to poppy tea, or be physically dependent upon it, or both.

A doctor would diagnose a person as being opioid-dependent if the patient suffered flu-like withdrawal symptoms several hours after drinking the last cup of tea. The physician would say the individual is addicted if the patient craved poppy tea or engaged in drug-seeking behavior when he ran out of tea.

Dependence and Tolerance

The body reacts to the presence of some substances, such as the opiates in poppy tea, by altering its own chemistry. With prolonged use, the body begins to rely on a certain level of opiates to feel "normal." If opiate levels drop unexpectedly, the body struggles to maintain chemical stability. Doctors call this process detoxification. The dependent individual experiences detoxification through unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms.

Detoxification causes withdrawal symptoms in an opioid-dependent person. Missing a dose, consuming a weak dose, or taking certain medications can initiate the detoxification process. Emergency room doctors administer naloxone to reduce opioid levels in overdose patients.

Untreated, these withdrawal symptoms eventually go away. It is possible to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms by taking a variety of medications that address individual withdrawal symptoms, or by taking medications that mimic the effects of poppy tea. Drinking more poppy tea will stop the detoxification process.

Long-term consumption of poppy tea may increase tolerance to opioids. Increased tolerance means a person must drink stronger poppy tea formulas or consume the product more often to achieve the intended effect. Low tolerance means the body is more sensitive to the effects of poppy tea.

Poppy Tea Addiction

When a doctor is considering a diagnosis of poppy tea addiction, she looks for telltale characteristics, such as cravings or drug-seeking behavior. A poppy tea addict will be unable to abstain from opioid use consistently, despite saying he wants to quit or cut down. He may not recognize the consequences of his drug abuse, or attribute his problems to another person or event. He may have other behavioral control issues, like sexual promiscuity or alcohol abuse. He may display a dysfunctional emotional response, becoming outraged at minor events or be dispassionate during emotional events.

Drug-Seeking Activity

Cravings and drug-seeking behavior are the benchmark of addiction. An addicted individual spends an inordinate amount of time looking for poppy tea, drinking it, or recovering from drug abuse. Poppy seeds are legal in the United States but the rest of the plant is a controlled substance, so drug-seeking behaviors associated with poppy teas are usually illegal in the U.S.

Addiction: What Family Members Should Know

Addiction is a disease, not a character flaw. Family members must avoid blaming the individual for his addiction and learn how to play a supportive role in recovery efforts. A supportive family is critical in the treatment of any neurological disease, including poppy tea addiction.

Everyone related to the addicted individual shares a risk for developing an addiction at some time in life. Heredity plays a strong role in determining whether an individual is vulnerable to developing an addiction. While there is no single "addiction gene," researchers think a particular interaction between one group of genes make a person more susceptible to addiction.

Environmental factors affect the development and progression of substance abuse problems like poppy tea addiction. Stress within the home or workplace increases the risk for substance abuse for everyone within that environment. Stresses can include frequent arguments, violence, substance abuse, financial pressure or relationship problems.
Some people are hypersensitive to stress and this hypersensitivity increases the risk for addiction. Poor coping mechanisms, such as taking drugs or drinking, increases ambient stress. Hypersensitivity may be passed from parent to child. Children also learn how to deal with stress by watching a parent; if the parent abuses drugs to deal with stress, the child may do the same when she gets older.

Collateral Damage

Family members should know that poppy tea addiction causes collateral damage onto everyone living within the home. Collateral damage can include loss of income, separation or divorce, loss of child custody, arrest and prison, seizure of the family home, high hospital bills and death.

It is illegal and unsafe to keep poppy tea in the home. Keeping drugs in a home with small children puts them at risk for accidental discovery and consumption, leading to toxic overdose. In cases of suspected overdose, take the victim to the hospital immediately along with any leftover poppy tea. Toxic opioid overdose can cause death.

Addiction: What Parents Should Know

Parents should know that teenagers and young adults are using opioid painkillers to get high. According to a national survey, about one in ten students between the ages of 12 and 17 said they were currently using illicit drugs such as poppy tea. Parents should look for warning signs of poppy tea addiction including an unusual loss of interest in things that were once important to the child. While every child goes through phases, addiction causes the child to lose interest in things he was once passionate about, like a pet or a hobby.

Parents should be alert to a sudden drop in performance in school or athletics. The child may quit an after-school job he loved for no reason. He may seem more unmotivated than other children his age, or lack the energy to participate in his favorite activities. He finds ways to sneak off and have trouble coming up with a reason for his absence.

A child with an addiction will have financial problems far advanced for his age - drugs are expensive and most teenagers work for minimum wage. Parents should remain alert for items or money missing from the home.

Caring for a Family Member with an Addiction

The family plays a critical role in recovery from poppy tea addiction. It is common for a family member to locate the treatment facility the addicted person eventually chooses. Each member of the family should encourage the individual to seek and complete treatment, and work to make that possible by taking over some responsibilities so the addicted individual can participate in counseling or detoxification sessions.

It is okay for family members to talk about poppy tea addiction between themselves, with rehabilitation professionals or with other people who have had similar experiences. Poppy tea addiction affects everyone in the household therefore everyone within the house has a right to express how addiction has affected them or to learn how to overcome addiction.

The addicted person does not have to participate in these discussions at first. In fact, he may be angry when he first learns that his family has been talking about his poppy tea addiction. Protectiveness and secrecy are part of the addictive process; the addicted person will be able to talk more freely about his disease after some amount of rehabilitation.

Poppy tea addiction can devastate a family but recovery efforts can have a positive effect. During the recovery process, individual family members learn to work as a team to provide a supportive network for the addicted person and for everyone else. A grandparent might take over meal preparation for an addicted daughter, or a child with a driver's license can run errands while his addicted father is in a counseling session. Many people discover strengths and weaknesses within themselves and in their family members during this shared experience.

Family members should know that it is possible to arrest poppy tea addiction at any time - it is not necessary to let a loved one hit rock bottom before intervening. Rock bottom may include infectious diseases, homelessness, divorce or loss of child custody, overdose and death. Early treatment helps the addicted individual avoid hitting rock bottom.

Family members may be tempted to shield a loved one from the consequences of his disease but recovery can only begin when the addicted individual recognizes the problems his substance abuse causes. Allowing drug abuse to continue only prolongs addiction. Counseling can help family member support an addicted loved one without enabling the disease.

Signs of Poppy Tea Addiction

Poppy tea addiction is associated with neurological changes that affect a person's behavior. The addicted individual may engage in criminal, abnormal or anti-social behavior. These behavioral changes serve a signs of poppy tea addiction.

Someone suffering from poppy tea addiction may display erratic behavior or have emotional or violent outbursts. She may participate in illegal activities, such as theft, prostitution or dealing drugs. She may also have serious financial trouble, as illegal drugs can be expensive.

The consumption of poppy tea becomes a priority for the addict. Soon, all she can think or talk about is poppy tea. Addiction distorts her view of the relative benefits and risks of poppy tea so that she only recognizes the positive aspects of this opioid and ignores the dangers.

Addiction separates families and interferes with friendships. Friends and family are the most likely to recognize the behavioral, cognitive and emotional changes that are the hallmarks of addiction, but addiction can often cause dangerous and unpredictable behavior that separates the addict from those who could help him.

Behavioral, Cognitive and Emotional Changes

Addiction to substances like poppy tea makes changes to the nervous system on a cellular level. These changes affect the way a person behaves, thinks and feels.


An addicted person uses poppy tea more frequently and in higher quantities than she intends. She may say she wants to quit or cut down, even as she consumes more tea. She may try to quit several times but seem ultimately unable or unwilling to make a permanent change.

As her addiction progresses, she loses an ever-increasing amount of time looking for poppy tea, getting high or recovering from drug abuse. This has a significantly negative impact on her job, personal responsibilities and relationships.

The poppy tea addict will continue to consume this opioid, even though it causes problems. She begins to participate in only activities that result in getting high.


Poppy tea addiction changes the way a person thinks. She becomes preoccupied with poppy tea. Addiction alters her perception of the relative benefits and risks of opioid abuse; she recognizes only the positive attributes and ignores negative consequences. She may blame her problems on other people or events instead of attributing her troubles to drug abuse.


Many individuals abuse poppy tea to reduce emotional pain but addiction can have the opposite effect. An individual struggling with poppy tea addiction may experience increased anxiety and emotional pain along with the emotional opposite of euphoria, dysphoria.

Addiction recruits the brain's stress systems so that the addicted individual feels increased stress during relatively calm situations. Those with hypersensitivity are at special risk.

The addicted individual may find it difficult to identify her feelings or describing them to others. She may have trouble distinguishing emotions from bodily sensations.

Symptoms of Addiction

When considering a diagnosis of poppy tea addiction, a doctor will look for specific symptoms, such as unexplained changes in weight or sleep patterns. Addiction may cause the patient to look sickly, have an unusual body odor or poor hygiene. The patient may have a nagging cough and bloodshot eyes with large or small pupils.

The physician also looks for psychological symptoms of poppy tea addiction, such as an inability to stop using poppy tea or cravings for this opioid. The addicted individual is unable to recognize how addiction has caused significant problems. Addiction may interfere with the individual's emotional responses, so that he seems dispassionate about important things.

Gender Differences

Men are twice as likely to abuse illegal substances like poppy tea, marijuana or heroin. Females tend to abuse prescription drugs more frequently. Females are also more likely to combine these prescription drugs with other substances, such as alcohol, marijuana or other opioids.

Males tend to get high in social settings, whereas women are more private in their abuse. Addicted women have smaller social groups than addicted men. This could be because of the strong social stigma against women who abuse drugs and the relative acceptability of men who get high.

Men start using drugs recreationally, compared with women who tend to start abusing drugs after receiving prescription medications to treat an illness.

Women may face additional obstacles to recovery. Addicted women are less able to afford quality treatment. An addicted mother may not be able to find or afford childcare while she participates in treatment. Women are also more likely to be in a relationship with a person who also engages in substance abuse; these women are reluctant to quit poppy tea because she is afraid of "abandoning" her partner.

Treatment Options

Without adequate treatment, opioid addiction can cause disability or premature death. Using poppy tea for a long time increases the risk for adverse reactions. While consumption of poppy tea rarely leads to overdose, long-term use of any opioid is associated with health hazards such as poor nutrition and infectious diseases.

In 2010, more than 23 million people in the United States needed treatment for substance abuse issues, such as poppy tea addiction, in 2010. Of those that needed treatment, only 11 percent of those received it from a specialty facility staffed with specially trained staff members. The remaining individuals received help from general hospitals or attempted to overcome substance abuse problems alone.

There are two phases of treatment. Detoxification is the medical process of lowering opioid levels. Detoxification causes five or more days of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Rehabilitation reduces the unhealthy behaviors associated with substance abuse in a way that reduces relapse. Rehabilitation usually includes behavior modification, counseling and sometimes medications.


Many opioid-dependent people try to overcome withdrawal symptoms alone, without the help of medicine or trained professionals, at least once. Doctors refer to this as self-detoxification but it is commonly called "going cold turkey." This phrase refers to the skin's appearance during the detoxification process: pale, cold and clammy with goose bumps, much like a plucked bird.

Someone going through the self-detoxification process faces several days of intense symptoms and dangerous complications. One complication is aspiration, where the individual vomits and then inhales stomach contents into the lungs. Aspiration can result in infection and fluid in the lungs. Severe and prolonged vomiting, diarrhea and sweating can cause dehydration leading to electrolyte imbalances.

The largest complication associated with detoxification is relapse to poppy tea abuse. Many addicts return to poppy tea abuse to ease uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Addiction is usually marked with cycles of remission and relapse.

The Thomas Recipe

Some people create homemade treatment plans that help them endure the detoxification process. One remedy is The Thomas Recipe, which calls for valium or another drug to calm anxiety and promote sleep. Vitamins, supplements and hot baths sooth achy muscles and L-Tyrosine with B6 helps with fatigue and malaise.

The Thomas Recipe reduces withdrawal symptoms somewhat but it does not shorten the duration of the detoxification process, nor does it offer protection from complications.

Drug Replacement Therapy

Drug replacement therapy, or DRT, allows a person to temporarily put off the detoxification phase and enter directly into the rehabilitation process. During DRT, the patient replaces poppy tea with another medication that acts similar to poppy tea but does not produce euphoria. DRT medications include methadone, buprenorphine and Suboxone.

Once the person learns how to live without poppy tea, he weans himself from the replacement drug by taking successively smaller doses increasingly further apart. Tapering can be difficult for many people. About 25 percent of methadone users never wean themselves from this drug, while another 25 percent eventually abstain from drug use altogether. Roughly half of all methadone users go on and off DRT for the rest of their lives.
Methadone and other DRT drugs are types of MAT, or medication-assisted treatment. Rehabilitation specialists know that MAT improves survival rates among opioid addicts and increases retention in treatment. MAT also reduces illicit opioid use and other illegal activities. This type of treatment improves birth outcomes for pregnant women fighting addiction, reduces the risk for contracting or spreading infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C.

Standard Detoxification

Most specialty clinics offer standard detoxification treatments in which doctors administer naloxone to lower opioid levels plus medicine to ease the ensuing withdrawal symptoms. Nurses monitor the patient for complications.

Standard detoxification eases withdrawal symptoms but does little to change the behaviors associated with poppy seed addiction. Even with medical care, the detoxification process is long and demoralizing.

Rapid Detox

Rapid detox is the most humane detoxification treatment available today. During rapid detox, board certified anesthesiologists administer the standard detoxification and anti-withdrawal drugs. They also give the patient sedatives and anesthesia so she rests in a pleasant "twilight sleep." When she awakens, she will have no memory of the arduous detoxification process. As a result, this patient is in a better state of mind for meaningful rehabilitation.


Detoxification from poppy tea dependence is only the first step in recovery and, by itself, does little to change the behaviors associated with addiction. Rehabilitation helps the individual change those behaviors in ways that reduces relapse rates.

Addiction is a complex neurological disease that requires long-term, professional treatment. Rehabilitation usually includes behavior modification combined with individual, group and family counseling. Medications are often an important component of treatment - many addicted individuals have co-existing medical or mental disorders that interfere with recovery efforts.

Rehabilitation may be done as an outpatient, with the addicted individual attending weekly or monthly meetings with a trained counselor. Inpatient programs may be as short as a few days or as long as six months or a year in a residential setting.

Addiction affects everyone differently, so no one treatment is appropriate for everyone. A person's needs change as his recovery progresses - treatment plans must change to fit the patient's changing needs. Furthermore, treatment must attend to the patient's multiple needs, not just her drug abuse.

Treatment must be readily available to encourage participation and completion. It is critical that the individual remain in treatment long enough to restore neurological function.

The rehabilitation counselor will require routine drug testing, as relapses to poppy tea addiction do occur. Testing for infectious diseases may be offered, along with education on how to reduce the risk for contracting or spreading these diseases.




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