How Do Opioids Differ from Opiates?

How Do Opioids Differ from Opiates?

Although opioids and opiates cause specific side effects, they usually produce similar effects

Opiates are often paired or combined with additional medications to alleviate pain; for example, oxycodone is often combined with acetaminophen. These pain relievers calm emotional responses to pain, so they not only reduce the number of pain signals sent through the nervous system, but they also affect how the brain reacts to pain.

Typically used for back and leg pain, opiates are not intended to be used for more than one to two weeks. Because these drugs are highly addictive, doctors closely monitor people who use them. In fact, even people who use their prescription as prescribed can become addicts. In other words, addiction can occur intentionally or accidentally, and either way people should seek help to get sober.

According to the Institute for Substance Abuse Treatment Evaluation, both natural and synthetic opiates are known as opioids. These drugs work by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal tract to block pain messages from traveling to the brain. As a result, opioids create euphoria by affecting areas of the brain that are responsible for pleasure. Opioids also cause the following side effects:

  • Stress relief
  • Drowsiness
  • Sense of contentment

Because opioids affect the pleasure area of the brain, users typically report minimal stress while under the influence—in addition, users may feel drowsy, warm and content. Although each opioid causes specific side effects, they usually produce similar effects.

The following drugs are common opioids:

  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Fentanyl
  • OxyContin (a brand of oxycodone)

Heroin is the most popular opioid as it is the most rapidly acting. Initially processed from morphine to cure morphine addiction, the substance quickly became a drug of choice. Heroin is typically sold as a white or brownish powder that is cut with other substances to increase sellers’ profits.

Codeine is a narcotic typically prescribed as a painkiller, cough suppressant and hypnotic. Furthermore, morphine is also derived from the seedpods of the opium poppy. Lastly, fentanyl is a synthetic narcotic that is 50 times more potent than heroin; it is often used in surgical procedures because of its minimal effects on the heart. This drug can be injected, snorted or smoked.

Treatment Options for Opiate and Opioid Addiction

Each addict is unique, so addicts often desire specific treatments over others. According to WebMD, treatment options for opiate and opioid addiction often include the following methods:

  • Inpatient treatment
  • Counseling
  • 12-Step programs

Withdrawal symptoms from opiates can be extremely painful, so addicts often battle their desire for sobriety with their need to suppress pain. Many addicts relapse simply to alleviate the pain of relapse, but medically supervised detox can help users get clean in as much comfort as possible.

Counseling occurs during inpatient treatment and aftercare to help addicts uncover the reasons behind their drug use. In discovering why they used drugs, recovering addicts can heal their pain to avoid the possibility of relapse. Counseling sessions can involve individual or group sessions that last anywhere from an hour to an entire evening.

Lastly, 12-Step programs are highly recommended, and they often take place in outpatient settings or residential facilities. Each program differs from others; for example, one may focus on abstinence from all medications while another may promote methadone or Suboxone use in recovery.

Drug Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one struggles with opioid addiction, then please call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators understand addiction and are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions so you can find help.

Addiction is difficult to overcome on your own, but our staff can help you understand your choices and support you every step of the way. You’re unique, so find the best form of treatment for you.