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.


  • Discovery Place was the answer for my son. He did the 90 day and then the step down program and sober living. We give this organization 10 stars. They met my son where he was …emotionally, mentally, physically. They helped him put his life back on track. Discovery Place employees care about their guests. If your son, brother, nephew, grandson or husband needs excellent supportive care THIS is indeed the facility.

    Kim Morton
    Alumni Parent
  • I have remained sober and it is because of DP. DP is the best place there is, hands down. I keep everyone there in my prayers, and I encourage everyone there to take what they are practicing and do it in their lives, after.

    Roy Mantelli
  • Over the past year, I’ve been putting into actin what Discovery Place taught me, and I have experienced a complete perspective change of the world, and the people in it. I get to be a man of service and love today, and for that I am grateful to Discovery Place.

    Matt Kassay
  • Discovery Place means the world to me. They showed me the tools that I’ve tried to use everyday in my life to think less often of myself, and more frequently of others. I am learning to lend a hand when I am able and to have a honest and humble relationship with God and the people around me. Not only am I clean and sober, but also I am happy and fulfilled.

    Tommy Parker
  • Discovery Place and the men who work there made recovery attractive, and more importantly, fun. There is strength in the struggle. I am forever grateful for my time at Discovery Place.

    Creed McClellan
  • When I got to Discovery Place my whole life was in shambles, but I didn’t know it. I spent 6 months in their programs, participating in all three phases, and was met with kindness and love all along the way. It is unbelievable to me, where I am now relative to where I was when I arrived at DP.

    Lance Duke
  • I can never say enough good things about Discovery Place and the people who work there. Before checking in to DP, I was out of options and out of answers. Fortunately, Discovery Place has a solution. Taking suggestions from the staff at DP saved my life, and as a result, I’m now more content and hopeful about life. I’m grateful for Discovery Place showing me how to live a healthy life so that I can become a better man and help the next guy.”

    Tyler Buckingham

    Thinking About Rehab?

    Learn More About Our Alternative Residential Recovery Programs

      Alternative Drug & Alcohol Treatment Rehab
    • Admissions
    • About Us
    • Contact
    • Talk to someone about your options

      Talk to someone about your options

      Blue Pig Media