Knowing the Difference Between Opioids and Opiates

Opioids, opiates, alcohol, cocaine, steroids, and ecstasy are all examples of drugs abused on a regular basis. But many people may ask, “Aren’t opioids and opiates the same thing?” The truth may surprise you, as opioids and opiates are, in fact, two different types of drugs.

Though there may be striking differences between opiates and opioids, they both can still affect others’ lives negatively. If opiates and opioids do not mean the same thing, then how do we define the difference? What do people need to look out for in both opiates and opioids, and what are the dangers of both?

Many different factors apply not only in defining opiates and opioids but how dangerous both can be and maintaining them.

Defining Opioids and Opiates

The fact that opioids and opiates are not synonyms often comes as a surprise to many; rather, opioids and opiates classify as completely different drugs. Though they may have similar effects, opioids and opiates affect the body and mind in different ways. Primarily, the ways they affect the human body vary depending on the drug.

Opiates classify as any drug naturally derived from opium—a narcotic originating from unripe seeds of the opium poppy. Opiates bind the body’s opioid receptors to initiate pain relief and treat physical ailments such as coughing and indigestion. Types of opiates include heroin, morphine, and codeine, which are typically used as relaxants or pain relievers.

Conversely, an opioid classifies as any drug that binds to the opioid receptors of the brain and central nervous system. However, opioids are not made from opium in the same way opiates are. Rather, opioids typically refer to synthetically created drugs and derive from opiates. Originally, professionals labeled opioids as narcotics but later separated them into a different category. Furthermore, there now exists a sub-category: synthetic opioids.

As opposed to standard opioids, synthetic opioids are often stronger, even including more dangerous medications such as fentanyl. Though synthetic opioids recreate many similar side effects as opiates, they do not originate from opium-like standard opioids. Furthermore, unlike opioids and opiates, synthetic opioids are designed to focus on treating chronic and severe pain.

Understanding the Difference

To understand the difference between opioids and opiates, there must also be an understanding of how they parallel. Originally, opioids only referred to synthetic medications, but now refer to all medications that respond to opioid receptors in the brain. Henceforth, this means all opiates can be considered opioids, but not all opioids are opiates.

Though opiates and opioids may differ, their addictive side effects are often quite similar. Side effects include positive aspects such as euphoria and relaxants, but include dangers like nausea, dizziness, and respiratory issues. The major distinction between them, however, is the strength of the dosage. Doses of synthetic opioids are often much stronger than more natural opioids and opiates; because of this, stronger synthetic opioids can be far more difficult to treat due to stronger dependency.

Treating the Addiction

Treating opioid or opiate addiction varies between the type of drug and the addict in question. Opioids and opiates can bring a variety of different psychological and physical damages when practicing severe addictions. Opioid abuse typically leads to a chemical dependency, which then steers addicts towards severe symptoms of fevers, anxiety, and insomnia.

Once an addiction reaches this hazardous stage, addicts should immediately begin treatment, which includes beginning the detoxification process. By this period, the withdrawal will be a painful requirement that no recovering addict enjoys, though not a deadly one. In fact, continuing abuse puts addicts in far more danger and provides greater medical risks such as:

  • Heart and lung failure
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Shallow breathing
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Permanent neurological damage
  • Coma
  • Death

Despite the legal consequences of abuse of opioids and opiates, many medical centers still offer proper treatment for addicts. Modern-day facilities focus not only on providing strong counseling, therapy, and education but also work with addicts in controlled environments. By settling addicts in a comfortable environment, facing opioid and opiate addictions can be an attainable challenge for recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with opiate or opioid addiction, contact Discovery Place‘s Treatment & Rehab alternative in Tennessee. You might be interested in Discovery Place’s own treatment center alternatives, such as our 30 Day Residential Addiction Alternative Recovery Program or our Long Term Alternative Recovery Program in Burns, Tennessee. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-725-0922.

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