Hi, my name's Sara Bellum. Welcome to my magazine series exploring
the brain's response to drugs. In this issue, we'll investigate the
fascinating facts about opiates. Some of this information was only
recently discovered by leading scientists.
If you've ever seen "The Wizard of Oz," then you've seen the poppy
plant -- the source of a type of drug called opiates. When Dorothy lies
down in a field of poppies, she falls into a deep sleep. No wonder the
Latin name of this plant -- Papaver somniferum -- means "the poppy that
makes you sleepy."
Opiates are made from opium, a white liquid in the poppy plant. They're
also referred to as narcotics. Maybe you've heard of drugs called heroin,
morphine or codeine. These are examples of opiates.
Opiates can produce a quick, intense feeling of pleasure followed by a
sense of well-being and a calm drowsiness. But they can also become an
addiction. If someone uses opiates again and again, his or her brain is
likely to become dependent on them.