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What Is the Difference Between Opioids and Opiates?

female therapist explaining to you male client what is the difference between opioids and opiates

The world of narcotics may seem overwhelming even if you don’t have a direct experience of addiction. Getting a handle on important topics like the difference between opioids vs. opiates is an excellent place to start if you’re beginning to learn about the addiction and treatment landscape. If you’re already seeking opioid or opiate abuse treatment, contact Ray Recovery in Hudson, Ohio. Our compassionate team members are standing by to answer your questions or begin your enrollment process 888.598.6299 or via online message.

What’s the Difference Between Opioids and Opiates?

To put it in terms of exclusion categories, all opiates are opioids, but not all opioids are opiates. The term “opiate” refers to narcotic substances that are naturally derived from the poppy plant. These plant-derived drugs have been in use for millennia and humans have probably always struggled with their addictive qualities. Opiates are potent painkillers that can help people cope with major injuries, surgeries, and similar conditions. They also strongly affect brain chemistry, however, and thus pose a substantial risk of causing dependence.

“Opioid” is a more generic term that encompasses both poppy-based opiates and semi-synthetic and fully synthetic analogs created in labs. One key practical difference is that some synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids are more poignant than their opiate counterparts. For example, the infamous synthetic opioid fentanyl is 50 times stronger than the plant-based heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, one of the original poppy-derived opiates.

Reviewing a few common names, the most well-known opiates are heroin, codeine, morphine, and opium. Among the most well-known and widely used synthetic or semi-synthetic opiates are fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, methadone, oxycodone, and tramadol. Regardless of relative potency, all opioids and opiates pose some risk of misuse since they strongly impact normal brain function.

They greatly increase the activity of dopamine in the brain. This chemical is largely responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward. Repeatedly inducing it to flood the system can result in habituated use patterns and an inability to self-regulate without drugs within a fairly short order. Moreover, many opioid users become addicted in part because of the side effects that occur if they try to quit. Without opioids, they experience symptoms like muscle aches, diarrhea, vomiting, and insomnia. This can easily lead them to resume use to quell the withdrawal symptoms.

What Are the Signs of Opioid Addiction Necessitating Treatment?

If you or someone you care about has been prescribed a course of opioids for pain management following major surgery, be sure to take them only as directed. If you find yourself or your loved one beginning to crave additional doses or contemplate dishonest behavior to get them, be sure to talk to an addiction specialist. Opioids are some of the fastest-acting drugs, both in their pain-relieving properties and their capacity to build tolerance.

Here are a few signs to watch for that may indicate an addiction is developing:

  • You’re coping with chronic fatigue or generally low energy.
  • Your breathing and heart rate are generally very low, potentially leading to clammy or slightly bluish skin.
  • You have flu-like symptoms such as an upset stomach or nausea.
  • Eating is no longer a priority, and you may have lost substantial weight since you started using opioids.
  • Your sex drive is likewise notably reduced.
  • If you stop using, you rapidly enter withdrawal and experience unpleasant side effects like cold flashes, vomiting, bone or muscle pain, and diarrhea.
  • Intense drug cravings lead you to engage in dishonest behavior such as “doctor shopping,” stealing another’s prescription, or buying more opioids on the street.
  • Your primary relationships have decreased in importance to you because of fixation on drug use and generally low engagement with anything else.

In addition, your work, school, and hobbies may suffer because you no longer have the energy or attention for them.

Get More Answers About Opiate and Opioid Differences and Treatment Options by Calling Ray Recovery Today

While facing the reality of opioid use disorder can be daunting, know that you’re not alone in the journey. Millions of people contend with the disease of addiction each day, and many of them ultimately achieve lasting sobriety through treatment. The key is a comprehensive intervention that extends from formal rehab through long-term lifestyle changes and social support. To begin the journey toward regaining control of your life, contact Ray Recovery. Our Ohio facility has many effective treatment options, and our caring team members are waiting to assist you at 888.598.6299 or by online message.