The Difference Between Opiates and Opioids

There is and has been a national crisis of opioid abuse in our country. Opioids are prescribed painkillers, synthetic opioids and illegal drugs such as Codeine, Heroin, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Methadone, Morphine, and Oxycodone. Some of these are prescribed on a daily basis for pain, acute and/or chronic. Many people who are prescribed painkillers abuse them. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH):

  • Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
  • Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder.
  • An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
  • About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
  • Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.

If you’ve been through drug treatment, are actively using right now, or have a loved one that’s addicted, you may be wondering what’s the difference between an opiate and an opioid. It can get confusing, so we are here to clear the air.

The Difference Between Opiates and Opioids

What is an Opiate?

Opiates are any substances produced naturally from the opium poppy flower such as morphine, opium, heroin, and codeine. Opiates act the same as opioids by attaching to your opioid receptors in your brain, which controls pain and pleasure. It is administered, prescribed and intended for the same painkiller effect just like an opioid.

Both opiates and opioids are physically addictive and if you don’t know the warning signs, becoming dependent can lead to an addiction that may end up an overdose. There is no difference in the fact that they both cause harm to you and, indirectly, your loved ones. If you or a loved one may be addicted to opioids, look our for some of these warning signs of an opioid use disorder/addiction:

  • Taking more than directed dose
  • Not being able to stop
  • Thinking about taking the pain medication
  • Continuing to take the medication even though it has caused troubling consequences
  • Hobbies that brought joy are no longer a part of your daily activities
  • Taking opioids while driving or during other dangerous situations
  • Growing a tolerance where the normal dose does not provide an effect, therefore, having to take more.

Opiates and opioids affect the body in the same way. Therefore, withdrawal symptoms are similar, and often include:

  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Body aches
  • Runny nose
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat

Are Opiates and Opioids the Same?

So, in the end, all opiates are opioids because they have the same effect by attaching to your opioid receptors in your brain causing the same effects to the brain and the body. This is why you hear both terms being used interchangeably in the news and popular culture.  The only difference, as explained above, is that an opiate is derived naturally from the poppy plant therefore not all opioids can be an opiate.

Garden State is Here to Help

If you or a loved one is going through an opioid addiction and are ready to stop, Garden State Treatment Center can get you in the right direction with our Medication-Assisted Addiction Treatment (MAT). Medication-Assisted Treatment is an addiction intervention approach that involves the use of medication along with behavioral counseling.

This treatment option has seen high success rates even with addicts with a chronic history of drug and alcohol abuse. The main goal of MAT is to help the individual sustain recovery. The recommended medication works to stabilize the brain’s chemistry, shut off the euphoric effects of opioids and alcohol, ease physiological cravings and stabilize body functions, without the adverse side effects of the abused substance.

If the thought of facing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms has kept you away from starting treatment, then know that compassionate help is just around the corner. Regardless of the severity of your addiction, you can rest assured that our MAT PROGRAM will help you achieve the goal of getting sober.