What is opium?

Opium is a drug made from the poppy plant. Poppies grow in many different countries but most poppies today are used to make heroin and opium is much less popular than in was in the past. In the past opium was widely used for both medical and recreational purposes.

Opium is made by drying the latex contained with in the opium poppy. It contains morphine usually about 8-10% by weight. This is what makes opium addictive. It also contains some codeine and other alkaloids. Typically opium is smoked in order to vaporize the morphine and get high (or relieve pain). Opium was also used in other ways. For instance Laudanum was a solution of opium in alcohol that was used as a way to consume opium (and thus morphine).

Opium is usually a tar-like material and can be sticky. It varies in color from yellow to tan to brown or black. Opium is not widely available because it is not very popular and it is much more profitable to refine the opium into heroin which is easier to smuggle and easier to sell. Like morphine, heroin, and oxycodone, opium is addictive and causes tolerance and dependence.