When used as actual medicine, a swallowed pill’s effects are felt within 25 minutes as the stomach and small intestines begins their digestion process and absorb the drug into the bloodstream.
While some abusers of prescription opiates take the pills orally, many break them down and either snort the crushed pills or heat them into a liquid and inject it in order to receive the effect faster. Snorted drugs take about four minutes for their effects to be felt, while shooting up only takes 20 seconds if injected into the vein directly. Since opiates work on the part of the brain that inhibit the fight or flight response, users experience a dreamy or euphoric state that produces physical and mental effects that last for several hours.
Most users experience drowsiness, slowed breathing, slurred speech, a dulled facial appearance and nausea. Since opiates work on the brain stem and slow breathing, an overdose can make users comatose or even kill them. Mentally, opiates dull the mind and result in impaired judgment, disorientation and the inability to interact with others.
Opiates are both physically and psychologically addictive. Withdrawal produces uncomfortable flu-like symptoms that peak 1 to 3 days from the last dose and then gradually disappear after a week. Psychological symptoms of withdrawal result in the user feeling dysphoria or depression. Since opiates elicit heightened euphoria, extended uses inhibits the brain from producing normal endorphins that naturally generate feelings of well-being.