Opioids versus opiates

What exactly is the difference between an opioid and an opiate? Most lay people assume they are different, but very few know exactly how they are different.

Basically, opioids are a broad class of drugs within which opiates reside. In short, opiates are one type of opioid. There are other types. The term “opioid” applies to several different drugs that work on receptors in the brain’s hypothalamus. There are three basic kinds of opioids:

• Synthetic
• Semi-synthetic
• Organic

Synthetic opioids are produced in laboratories. They are man-made. They have the same effects as opiates, but they do not come from the flowering poppy plant.

Semi-synthetic opioids are a combination of chemicals and naturally occurring opiates. They are part man-made and part organic. Semi-synthetic opiates were originally developed to be a safer and more effective alternative to the organic opiates that were used for medical purposes.

Organic opiates are derived naturally from the flowering opium poppy plant. They are not produced in a lab using other chemicals. Rather; they occur naturally. Morphine and codeine are two such opiates.

Opioids cause a person to feel relaxed and intensely happy. Any feelings of anxiety simply melt away. This is why they are so often misused. They are also highly addictive.

Heroin is a semi-synthetic narcotic. It has become the “poster child” (so to speak) for opioid addiction, and, when it is misused, for overdose. Two other fairly well-known semi-synthetic opioids originally developed for medical purposes but also often available on the street are oxycodone and hydrocodone.

At first, heroin is extremely calming. But the sense of euphoria it produces can quickly turn into an urgent medical emergency. Overdoses occur when large quantities of potent opioids in the body shut down the central nervous system. This, in turn, slows, then stops, breathing. If not treated quickly with a stimulant that increases adrenaline in the body, and with it, a person’s heart rate, it can lead to death.

If you or a loved one is suffering from an opioid addiction, knowing the various types of drugs that could be involved can help you decide on the best course of medically supervised withdrawal and treatment. When the issue is opioid abuse, early intervention is extremely important. Fortunately, help and support are available. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Call us today at 833-846-5669.