As someone with a fairly good grasp on pharmacology, and someone who also had a significant oxycodone habit, so large that I once did the equivalent of 200 5mg percocet in one day (i.e. 12 oxycontin 80mg), I can attest to this nightmare.
First, I have to say, the prohibition of these substances is the most detrimental factor of usage. I repeat: the illegality of these substances is causing more problems than the effects of the actual drugs. I was a straight A student, blowing cocaine and oxycodone throughout most of my senior year. My work output was not affected by the drug itself, rather the huge financial strain caused by black market inflation, and the task of making sure I always had a fix. Who is really harmed when one takes a drug? Yet, the inaccurate paternalism of many governments would have a drug user in prison with violent offenders.
When one takes an opiate, be it vicodin (hydrocodone), heroin (intravenously or intranasally), codeine, demoral, morphine or dilaudid morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone or any derivative of the poppy activates his opioid receptors, which causes a release of endorphins that triggers a release of enkephalins, which also triggers a massive release of dopamine as well. This is one hell of a chemical reaction. The only problem is that as one's body gets used to an exogenous endorphin source, it stops making endogenous endorphins, and becomes dependent on the exogenous source. This is where withdrawal creeps into the user’s life. The higher the habit, the more heinous the withdrawal symptoms because the body has become increasingly dependent on this exogenous endorphin source. Withdrawal is hell. I do not think I need to elaborate any further than what has been said by many junkies before, though I will give a list of withdrawal symptoms: extreme restlessness, panic, an odd taste and smell, shooting pains, insomnia, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), stomach cramps, sneezing, yawning and spontaneous ejaculation (these three are all an effort by your body to create endogenous endorphins), loss of appetite (usually lasts at least five days), depression, aches and pains and headaches. And this still does not reveal the pure torture of withdrawal.
However, there is so much hope. Unless the user is rich, and stocks up in advance with a connection that he knows will last forever, there will be a time when the user either goes broke, or cannot find the goods. Hopefully, in this situation the user has stacked up a nice supply of Buprenorphine. In America, this goes under two names: Suboxon (which has naloxone in it, a pure opioid antagonist added to stop people from railing the Buprenorphine), and Subutex (pure Buprenophine). A word to the wise: wait until the actual onset of withdrawal before using Buprenophine because it will knock any opioid drugs stimulating the receptors out of the receptor, and actually cause one to go into withdrawal. A common misconception about Suboxon is that it is the naloxone that causes withdrawal if it is taken while still under the influence of another opioid, but really, it is the Buprenorphine—it takes both an agonist and antagonist confirmation to the receptor—that is knocking out everything stimulating the opioid receptors. Naloxone is really to prevent one from taking the Buprenophine intravenously.
Buprenorphine is a true miracle, and the drug that helped me to get clean. I have been clean now for about three months. The first month I used Buprenorphine to ease withdrawal. It truly is a miracle. It was almost too easy. So there is so much hope for everyone out there struggling. I found Methadone really crappy, probably because it is only a partial morphinone, and a great amount of anxiety comes along with it. However, Buprenorphine allows one to feel normal, as he was before he ever gained an opiate habit.
I want to wish all struggling with this good luck, but I already know a user will go until it gets out of control. That is the way it always seems to happen. Then, many times but not all, the user will learn it just is not feasible in modern society. And, believe it or not, it will get old after a while, and lose its charm. It gets to the point where the user cannot even feel it anymore, and then usually he will finally give it up, at least for a time. As the user abstains longer and longer, they usually notice the joy in life again, and decide never to go back. Almost always, a user will get to this point sooner or later, but I already know there is nothing one can say to instill these realizations in an opiate user. It is an experiential truth, or a gnosis.
Heroin was originally named because of the feeling achieved by its users. It made them feel like a hero. It was created by the Bayer Corporation, and welcomed for its supreme efficacy in treating pain over morphine. The most common American heroin user in the nineteenth century was an upper class woman from the south. They used to carry around a heroin tincture, and until the twentieth century, the virtues of the poppy and its effects were extolled since Roman times. An opiate user can live a long successful life with a daily supply of an opiate, but a daily supply of an opiate simply is not pragmatic in today’s world. I know some countries, such as England, have heroin programs, and I think this is a great thing. Nevertheless, the rest of the world does not. A user can end up in prison, or the worst hell of pain he can imagine. I do not want to be overly didactic here, but I was once young and confident, and thought I could control my drug use. I was wrong. So while it will not kill you if you know what you are doing, and it absolutely should not be illegal, take a real fair warning from someone that thought they controlled the world like chessboard: do not get started with opiates.