Most synthetic opioids are encountered as tablets, mimicking pharmaceutical opioid products. Clandestinely produced synthetic opioids are found as a single substance in combination with other opioids (fentanyl, heroin) or other substances.
Heroin is typically sold as a white or brownish powder, or as the black sticky substance known on the streets as “black tar heroin.” Most street heroin is “cut” with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine.
Some effects include relaxation, euphoria, pain relief, sedation, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, urinary retention, pupillary constriction, and respiratory depression. Effects are not unlike opiates like codeine and morphine.
Overdose effects of synthetic opioids are similar to other opioid analgesics and may include stupor, changes in pupillary size, cold and clammy skin, cyanosis, coma, and respiratory failure leading to death. The presence of triad of symptoms such as coma, pinpoint pupils, and respiratory depression may indicate opioid poisoning.
Short-term effects of opioid abuse—clouded mental functioning, nausea, and drowsiness—have clear implications and impact on the workplace. However, the longer-term threats to overall health and addiction have an even greater potential to create problems for the employee, his family, co-workers and the employer.
That is because the opiate addict’s, especially the heroin addict’s, primary focus in life becomes acquiring and using the drug. The most obvious concerns are job-related mistakes, medical costs and inappropriate behavior.