This is a drug reference guide. It’s medically accurate, research and general knowledge based. None of it is from personal experience and I absolutely don’t encourage any drug use. This is simply made for a reference for your writing so that if you’re playing a certain character, taking a certain drug you’ll have a better understanding of how they might act, what they’ll experience internally and the after-effects and medical effects the drug has on their body and mind.
I am in no way telling you how to play your character, this is just a few helpful pointers that might help you get to know your druggie a little better.
Well, let’s just jump right into this, shall we?
Opiates are a drug made of the opium poppy plant (papver somniferum). There is a long list of drugs that are classified as opiates: morphine, codeine, hyrdocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, and oxymorphone - however, Hydro/Oxy - are not considered full opiates, because they’re made from opiates, but not opiates themselves - making them semi-synthetic opium.
Because of that, I’m going to over the two most common: Morphine and Codeine. I’m not going to go over oxy and hydro, because they’re symptoms and highs are nearly identical to codeine - they are, however stronger than codeine, so if your character is using oxy/hydro, reading up on codeine would be useful - just heighten all the experiences.
Medically, morphine is used as a pain killer for serious pain and even for labor pains. In short, what morphine does is block pain receptors in the central nervous system. It essentially latches onto the nerves and makes them less receptive. After taking morphine - assuming you’re taking it orally, your character should feel the effects within twenty to thirty minutes. There are two kinds of morphine - immediate release, or timed release. With the immediate, you’ll feel the effects for about four, five hours. With timed it’ll last about twelve. However, it’s not uncommon for a drug addict to take a time release pill, crush it up and snort it. Which would drop the effects down to about five hours again - BUT they’ll be quite a bit stronger.
A user of morphine will generally not experience much the way of impairment - Morphine doesn’t cause your abilities to think change much, if at all. There are studies that say morphine will lower a users cognitive thinking, then there are studies that show it doesn’t… Why? Well, because people react to it, as with everything else, differently. If you chose to have your characters motor functions and cognitive thinking lowered - it wouldn’t be lowered much. Morphine, in recreational use is taken for that pain-free feeling. Not only does it reduce pain, but it gives you the feeling of “I don’t care” - so even if you felt pain, you wouldn’t care about it whatsoever. A certain sense of euphoria.
Things that your character might experience after taking morphine include: nausea, stomach pain, feeling pins and needles (tingly type feeling), feeling warm, headaches, spinning rooms, sleep problems, strange dreams. More severe side effects would be: shallow heartbeat, slowed heartbeat, cold and clammy skin, weakness, dizziness, feeling light headed, trouble swallowing, pale skin, unusual bleeding, bruising and red spots. In extreme cases, seizures are possible and very dangerous.
Addiction is something to worry about with morphine, because its considered a highly addictive substance. With morphine, the addiction is compared to heroin… Yeah, it’s that bad. It’s more likely for a habit to form if it’s being used as a recreational drug than if it’s being used to actually combat pain. There have been studies that show that those addicted to Morphine, can take heroin and be just as happy. This is particularly dangerous because morphine is a drug that builds up a tolerance - the more you take, the more you NEED to take to feel anything. Overdose is highly likely to users that become addicted to the substance.
Overdose can cause asphyxia which leads to death without medical attention. Naloxone is given to subjects undergoing overdose - which instantly (a couple of doses might be required in severe cases) reverses any effect of morphine. However, it throws the patient into withdrawals.
Withdrawals for morphine aren’t fatal (provided your character doesn’t have respiratory issues or heart issues) however it comes with a hefty and painful detox… After about ten hours (noted as short as six) after the last dose the user will generally experience: drug craving, anxiety, irritability and mild dysphoria. Fourteen hours after the last dose, your character should undergo: Sweating, lots of it, spurts of depression, crying, runny nose, and of course the aforementioned symptoms. Twenty or so hours after the last dose, your character would likely not enjoy having to suffer through: (the above), dilating pupils, goosebumps, twitches, hot flashes, cold flashes, aching bones, inability to eat and cramping. After that, rounding about thirty hours - the character will suffer: (the above), severe cramping, leg twitches and movement, insomnia, high blood pressure, overheating, quickened heartbeat, restlessness. Lastly, the final stretch of withdrawals - which, is different for everyone usually about 48-90 hours - though it’s been noted to last for weeks, your character will experience all the above symptoms along with: vomiting, fear, liquid diarrhea, involuntary ejaculation (deemed as painful by some), weight loss (about three to five pounds her 24hours), and blood changes such as increased white cell count.
I don’t really think an example needs to be given, as everything is fairly straightforward.
This is going to be significantly shorter, there’s not quite as much to be said about this drug. Codeine is a lot like morphine, but used for many many other things such as: antihypertension, antianxiety, sedative, pain killer and sometimes to stop premature labor. It reduces mild to moderate pain, it helps reduce coughing, and helps with irritable bowl syndrome.
So, as with the above, it’s a pain killer and helps to block receptors. But users will experience much different symptoms than with morphine - things like: drowsiness, mild euphoria, itching, nausea, dry mouth, hypertension. However, the adverse symptoms are rather rare.
Worst case, with overdose you can have respiratory depression - as with everything, overdose is dangerous and needs medical attention.
Just like morphine, you can develop a physical dependance, but withdrawals are much simpler. The user will experience: runny nose, irritability, upset stomach, cramps, drug craving, chills and pain. Users wouldn’t be given anything to counter the effect - other than codeine at decreasing doses to help the symptoms lessen. Withdrawal starts about six hours after last dose (after as few as 6 days of constant use) and lasts for approximately a week.
People going through heroin withdrawals often use codeine as a way to help lessen the symptoms.
Speaking about recreational, however, codeine is used because it gives a ‘relaxed high’ - it makes you calm, it takes away pains and worries - much like morphine, however it’s a slower high and a less violent drop. The high should last about four hours, five to six if you’re lucky and have a slow metabolism.
This probably isn’t my best guide, simply for the fact that opiates are so personal based - it’s different for different people. But, this is all the general experiences and knowledge about the two most common opiates. If you’re using an opiate not listed - chances are their symptoms, withdrawal and high will match Codeine - HOWEVER will likely be stronger and last longer.
In short, if you’re writing a character using an opiate - their high will basically last (regarding all opiates) about five hours, and simply give them a soft sense of euphoria, drowsiness and a relaxed feeling.