There were no legal restrictions on the importation and use of opium until the early 1900s. In those days, patent medicines often contained opium without warning labels. Today there are state, federal, and international laws governing the production and distribution of narcotic substances, and there is little abuse of Opium in the United States.

At least 25 alkaloids can be extracted from opium. These fall into two general categories, each producing markedly different effects. The first, know as the phenanthrene alkaloids, represented by morphine and codeine, are used as analgesics and cough suppresants; the second, isoquinoline alkaloids, represented by papaverine (an intestinal relaxant) and noscapine (a cough suppressant), have no significant influence on the central nervous system and are not regulated under the CSA.

Although a small amount of opium is used to make antidiarreal preparations, such as paregoric, virtually all the opium imorted into the United States is broken down into its alkaloid constituents, principally morphine and codeine.

Information gotten from a book supplied to libraries by the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970.