What’s the Difference Between Opiates and Opioids?

The terms “opiate” and “opioid” are often used interchangeably. There is a difference, but both a similar in how they work and both are quite addictive.


Natural Opiates

Opiates are derived naturally from the poppy plant. Some opiates include:

  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Thebaine
  • And, of course: opium

Although they come from a natural plant, it doesn’t make them safe for all people and all situations. Although they have various medical potential, it is very easy to fall into a pattern of abuse with these drugs.


Synthetic Opioids

Opioids, conversely, are produced synthetically (although there is a semi-synthetic variety). They have been designed to work with the opioid receptors of the brain which all humans have. This interaction causes the release of endorphins, the mind’s own happiness.

Opioids come in two flavors: opioid agonist drugs and opioid antagonists.


Opioid Agonist Drugs

These interact with the body similarly to their natural counterparts, but although they are synthetic, they can produce a variety of different effects. Some of these drugs include:

  • Fentanyl
  • Percocet
  • Demerol
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone

One positive benefit of some opioid agonist drugs is that they sometimes they can be used in drug replacement therapy. They can cause slow-acting effects without the high attached. Some of these include:

  • Methadone
  • Suboxone
  • LAMM
  • Subutex


Opioid Antagonists

Opioid antagonists work in the opposite way by blocking access to the opioid center. This blocks the euphoria opioids create and are used for treatments discouraging opioid abuse. Some examples of these are:

  • Naloxone
  • Naltrexone
  • Nalmefene


Addictive Drugs

Both the natural and synthetic opiates and opioids are highly addictive. If your doctor recommends one, please do your homework to understand what they are and what potential side effects and signs of addiction are. Make sure your doctor knows your personal and family history. If you worry that you have become addicted to an opiate or opioid, please seek help. Call a Florida addiction treatment center at (844) 299-0618.

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