Opium refers to an additive narcotic drug that contains alkaloids such as papaverine, codeine, and morphine. Preparation of opium requires the dried latex of green seedpods of the opium poppy as the raw material (Szablewicz, 2010). Opium poppy has a complex history as it has brought great problems as well as great benefits to the human society (Lee et al., 2011). This is probably among the earliest medicinal plants that human beings had discovered. In the present day, cultivation of opium poppy takes place in many countries worldwide, notably Turkey, Poland, Holland, Romania, Iran, Afghanistan, Canada, just to mention a few. This discussion will consider both the negative and positive effects of opium poppy to the society.
According to United Nations (2009), opiate drugs have a close association with a variety of negative effects to human society. Such negative effects include terrorism, wars, international politics, crime, and economics. For instance, many morphine addicts are willing to do almost anything, including prostitution, robbery, and thievery in order to obtain the drugs. Research has shown that consumption of too much opium can kill. According to Chouvy (2010), opiates can result in severe side effects, dependence, and addition. There is an association between the use of opium and the presence of multiple disorders in diabetic men (Shiri, Hassani, & Ansari, 2006). According to Najafi, Sheikhvatan, & Ataie-Jafari, (2010), the use of opiate drugs increases the severity of Coronary Heart Disease. Opiate drugs can interfere with the elimination of solid waste in human beings by relaxing the muscles in the intestines, which prevents them from contracting. United Nations (2009) has shown that many users of opiate drugs report sulky bowel movements.
In spite of its negative effects, opiate drugs are still among the most effective painkillers, and very crucial in the treatment of terminal illnesses and severe pain. The research by United Nations (2009) has shown that the pleasure-giving and painkilling effects of opiate drugs have been significant in ancient cultures for many years. Opium is extremely significant in the medicinal world, and it is useful in hospitals across the world (Moraes & Moraes, 2003). Currently, opium is useful in the treatment of diarrhea and spasms (Hesse, 2002).
Therefore, opium poppy is both a blessing and a curse regarding its usage in human society. However, the negative effects of opium outweigh its positive effects. Opium has a close association with various crimes because opium users are ready to perform any possible task with an attempt to obtain the drugs (Tian et al., 2011). Medicine is one of the few fields in which opium is useful. Cultivation of the opium poppy is legal in various countries because of the medicinal value of morphine (Dewick, 2009).