Opiates vs. Opioids: What's the Difference?

Most people are aware that society is currently in an opioid pandemic. However, what most people don’t know is that there are two major forms of opioids, opioids and opiates. When comparing opiates vs. opioids, it’s important to know the differences between the two.

There are certain substances that can be both an opiate and an opioid but for the most part, they are different and unique substances. In this blog, we will take a look at the main difference between opiates vs opioids as well as talk about some of the most common types of each substance and how you can get help for opioid and opiate addiction.

What Are Opiates?

Before we discuss the main difference between opiates vs. opioids, it’s important to properly identify what exactly an opiate is. An opiate is a controlled substance that is derived mainly from opium. Opium is a chemical that is found in poppy seeds and poppy plants.

Opiates are typically prescribed by doctors to patients who are suffering from mild to severe pain. Due to the effectiveness of opiate pain killers and their calming effects, opiates are often abused. As a result, many people develop opiate addictions.two women in a serious discussion

What makes opiate and opioid addictions so scary is that they often arise through no fault of the person who is taking them. Many people who suffer from opiate addiction begin taking these painkillers as medically directed by their doctors. However, as the body begins to build up a tolerance, it needs more and more of the painkillers in order to reach the desired effect.

That, coupled with the way these opiates tend to make a person feel is the perfect combination to lead to dependence, abuse, and ultimately addiction. When this happens, the person who is now addicted might turn to the street to get his or her fix when that person can no longer get prescriptions from their doctors.

What Are the Most Common Opiates on the Market?

There are two main classifications of opiates, antagonists and agonists. Antagonists, such as Naloxone and Naltrexone are considered much less addictive and can even be used to help with the detox portion of addiction treatment. Agonists, however, are the much more dangerous and more commonly known types of opiates. Agonist opiates are the ones that produce the feelings of relaxation and euphoria that people who are hooked on opiates are often chasing.

Some of the more common agonists include:

  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Heroin
  • Oxycodone
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocone
  • Dilaudid
  • Demerol
  • Methadone

What Are Opioids?

When comparing opiates vs. opioids, it’s important to have a good understanding of what these two types of substances are individually. This includes opioids.

Opioids are controlled substances that directly interact with the opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system. An opioid is actually an umbrella term that refers to a variety of different substances. These can include natural opioids, synthetic opioids, and even semi-synthetic opioids. 

When it comes to the difference between opiates vs opioids, the biggest difference is that in order to be an opiate it has to be derived from a poppy plant. On the contrary, an opioid is considered anything that interacts with the opioid receptors in the brain, including both natural substances and lab-created substances. 

What Are Some Common Signs of Opioid and Opiate Abuse?

As we mentioned above, opioids and opiates are highly addictive. As a result, many people who find themselves developing an opioid or opiate abuse issue do so through no fault of their own.

Doctors often prescribe opiates and opioids to individuals that need pain relief. Such individuals then often take their opiate or opioid medications for longer than they are prescribed to or take more opiate or opioid pills than they are prescribed to in hopes that doing so will give them more pain relief.

Rather than giving these individuals more pain relief though, misusing opioid or opiate painkillers often causes them to become dependent on opiates and opioids. Soon, such individuals also often develop opioid and opiate addictions.  

In order to get treatment for addiction before it is too late, it’s important to know the different signs and symptoms of abuse of opiates vs. opioids. If you or someone you know is taking opioids or opiates and you fear you may be suffering from an addiction, here are some of the common signs to look out for:

  • Mood swings
  • Doctor shopping
  • Trying to get as many prescriptions as possible
  • Taking the pills in ways other than medically directedWoman struggling with opiate withdrawal
  • Finishing prescriptions early
  • Changes in social circles
  • Isolating
  • Struggling to complete basic tasks at work, school, or home
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Losing interest in hobbies
  • Showing visible signs of intoxication
  • Having unexplained money issues
  • Stealing items including money or pills

If you or someone you know answered yes to one or more of the signs or symptoms above, it’s important to get help right away. Not properly treating an opioid or opiate addiction early can lead to even more serious medical issues including an overdose or even death. 

Are There Opioids That Are Also Opiates?

While not always the case, there are some opioids that also fall into the category of being an opiate as well. essentially, all opiates are opioids, but not all opioids are opiates. This is because opiates are all-natural while opioids aren’t.

One of the more common examples of this is heroin. Heroin is largely considered the most popular opiate on the market today. This is largely due to the fact that it costs significantly less on the street than prescription pain pills and can achieve the same desired effect. 

Other common opioids that are also considered opiates include:

  • Fentanyl
  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone

Opiates vs. Opioids Addictions

It’s important to remember that no matter how the opiate or opioid addiction came about, there are ways to get help available to you. When it comes to opiate and opioid addiction, there are many different treatment options available and your treatment plan will be custom designed to fit you and your needs specifically.

No two people are alike and no two addictions are alike, which is why there is no such thing as a “cookie-cutter” opiate or opioid addiction treatment plan.

Child's hand on woman's back in a hugThe first step in the opiate or opioid treatment process is to undergo detox treatment. During the detox process, your body will rid itself of any and all harmful substances so you can begin the treatment and recovery process. 

Opioid and opiate withdrawal during this time can be particularly uncomfortable. This is why it’s crucial to detox under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals at either a local medical facility, a dedicated detox center, or a treatment center that also provides detox services such as Grand Land Recovery.

Attempting to self-detox can be very dangerous and even life-threatening. Some withdrawal symptoms you can expect include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • Cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Intense cravings
  • Chills

Once opiate or opioid detox is completed, the next step is to enter into a treatment program. While inpatient treatment has been proven the most effective when it comes to treating opiate and opioid addiction, some might choose the outpatient route. Your treatment specialist will likely recommend which option he or she thinks is best for you when helping you create your addiction treatment plan. 

During opiate and opioid treatment, you’ll participate in a variety of different therapies, including individual and group counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and 12-step programs such as AA. At Grace Land Recovery, we also offer a variety of alternative, experiential therapies including:

  • Music therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Equine therapy
  • Adventure therapy
  • Hiking and other outdoor activities
  • Poetry
  • Dance

Want To Know More About the Difference Between Opiates vs Opioids

While opioids and opiates tend to produce similar results, the biggest difference between opiates and opioids is their use of poppy plants. Both opiates and opioids can be incredibly dangerous and highly addictive, even for those who are only taking the substance as medically directed. If you or someone you know is suffering from an opiate or opioid addiction, seek help before it’s too late. 

At Grace Land Recovery we understand the severity of opioid and opiate addiction which is why we offer a variety of treatment programs specifically designed to treat those substances. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options and how you can live a happy, healthy, and sober life.