Opiates Vs Opioids: Do You Know The Difference?
Since opiates and opioids have a similar effect, these two words are often used interchangeably. However, opiates and opioids are not the same things.
Opiates are a class of prescription drugs made from the opium poppy, known for being effective in treating chronic pain. Opium is a highly addictive non-synthetic narcotic. Besides opium, true opiates include morphine and codeine. Because these drugs come directly from the poppy, they are considered natural and organic.
Opioids are also painkillers. However, they are either completely or partially synthetic. Opioids are not found in nature. They are made in a laboratory. Synthetic opioids include heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, buprenorphine, methadone, and fentanyl, among others.
Opiates Vs Opioids: How Do They Differ?
The only real difference when comparing opioids versus opiates is that opiates are natural while opioids are not. Nevertheless, both types of drugs can kill pain or satisfy a habit equally well. These medications are available in a variety of dosages and durations of effectiveness.
Opiates Vs Opioids: How Do They Work?
We have receptors in the brain and nervous system that release chemicals called endorphins. These neurotransmitters are designed to relieve pain. Their natural analgesic ability is usually enough to get you through a minor headache or some joint pain after working out.
For more serious pain, ibuprofen can be highly effective. However, if you develop serious pain that overwhelms your body, your physician may prescribe an opioid or an opiate as a short-term solution for pain relief.
Opiates and opioids, whether natural, synthetic, or semi-synthetic, stimulate the body’s pain receptors to ramp up their endorphin production for as long as the drug remains in the system.
Both types of medication reduce the intensity of pain signals and mute feelings of pain. They accomplish this with different degrees of intensity that depend on the duration and dose of the drug being used.
Opioids Vs. Opiates: Which Is More Effective?
Prescription pain medications are usually synthetic opioid formulations with two exceptions. One is morphine, an opiate that’s reserved for extreme and unbearable pain.
The other is codeine. This opiate is used to manage pain that’s serious enough to treat, but not serious enough to warrant opioids like hydrocodone, oxycodone, or buprenorphine.
Fentanyl is an opioid that’s used to treat breakthrough pain or sudden episodes of pain that occur despite 24/7 treatment with morphine. Fentanyl is most often used to treat cancer patients over 18 years old. This opioid changes the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain.
If you suffer from severe and debilitating chronic pain, then your doctor may suggest medication-assisted treatment (MAT). A synthetic opioid called methadone can provide ongoing pain relief for 24 hours for patients in MAT. The daily dose of methadone is dispensed under the direct supervision of a health care professional.
What Is Opioid Use Disorder?
Opioid use disorder (OUD) is defined as a pattern of opioid or opiate use that repeatedly leads to significant impairment. The pattern continues despite a patient’s best efforts to quit or cut back on their own.
Potential consequences can include legal problems, jail time, inability to keep a job, and shattered family and social relationships. There may be health problems caused by abscesses and dirty needles.
Opioid use disorder is the preferred terminology for this condition over other descriptive titles such as opiate addiction and opioid dependence.
Opioid Vs. Opiate Addiction: Which Is Harder To Kick?
There is no evidence that opiates are any harder to kick than opioids. However, compared to other addictive drugs like crack cocaine and methamphetamine, opioids and opiates are the hardest addictions to kick.
Nevertheless, many people do recover. You can, too. There are many different treatment options for those with OUD:
- Inpatient detox
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Short or long-term residential care
- Halfway houses and sober living communities
- Individual counseling
- Group therapy
- Outpatient treatment
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
- Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous
Residential treatment is the beginning of recovery. Together with your peers, you’ll learn how to stay clean in a safe, comfortable, and medically supervised environment.
After gaining stability, some residents opt for a sober living house combined with outpatient care. These measures provide support as you return to the real world.
Opiate Vs. Opioid: Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
During inpatient detox, medications are used to treat withdrawal symptoms and keep you comfortable. Nevertheless, intense discomfort after detox when the medications are tapered off can be a significant challenge for anyone seeking long-term sobriety.
Those patients may be treated with low daily doses of either methadone or buprenorphine for ongoing relief under the supervision of a health care provider.
Studies indicate that medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can significantly improve the odds of long-term recovery from OUD. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified buprenorphine and methadone as essential medicines.
MAT services can reduce overdose deaths, criminal behavior, and infectious disease transmission. In Baltimore alone, heroin overdose deaths dropped by 37 percent in patients receiving MAT in a 2009 study.
Patients receiving MAT showed increased social functioning and were more likely to remain in treatment compared to patients receiving treatment without medication. MAT was also found to reduce symptoms of neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Illegal Opiates And Opioids
Most opiates and opioids prescribed by a physician and obtained from a pharmacy are legal. The only exceptions are opium from the opium poppy and heroin, a semi-synthetic opioid derived from morphine. All street versions of opiates and opioids are considered illegal.