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Opiates vs. Opioids. What’s the Difference?

a person experiencing substance abuse puts their hand on their head while sitting on a bed and wonders about opiates vs opioids

When talking about addictive drugs, it’s essential to understand the differences between various types of substances. However, the terms used to describe these substances can sometimes be confusing. One common source of confusion is the difference between drugs classified as opiates and those classified as opioids. These two groups of substances share certain things in common. For example, their misuse can lead to the need for opioid or opiate addiction treatment. But they also differ in some notable ways. Awareness of these differences can help clarify the distinction between the two categories of drugs.

Opiates vs. Opioids – What Are the Similarities?

What are opiates and opioids? All drugs and medications that fit these definitions are similar in significant ways. First, they’re all directly or indirectly based on the active ingredients of a plant called the opium poppy.
When you take opiates and opioids, they reach your brain by accessing sites in your body called opioid receptors. These receptors are designed to provide access to your own endorphins and other internally produced chemicals. However, both opioids and opiates are able to use them.

The Effects of Opioids vs. Opiates – A Common Impact

All opiates and opioids act as painkillers inside your brain and body. In addition, they slow down the normal activity rate in your central nervous system. These two effects are related. Notably, both opiates and opioids trigger euphoria, a profound form of pleasure. The impact of euphoria is often what drives a pattern of opioid or opiate misuse.

Whether an opioid or opiate is in your system, this misuse can eventually trigger addiction. The combination of three factors creates addiction. The first factor is a physical dependence on an opiate or opioid. The second is the additional presence of a psychological dependence on one of these substances. In addition, people affected by addiction start compulsively seeking out more opiates or opioids to consume.

What Are the Differences Between an Opiate and an Opioid?

So, how do opiates and opioids differ? The main distinction between opiates vs. opioids is their specific chemical source. Opiates come directly from the sap or plant fibers of the opium poppy. Substances with this origin include:

  • Morphine
  • Opium
  • Heroin
  • Codeine

All opioids, on the other hand, contain at least some non-natural ingredients. Certain substances in this category are only partially synthetic. This means that they include both natural and artificial ingredients. Others are fully synthetic and contain no natural ingredients. The extensive list of opioid substances includes:

  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Fentanyl
  • Meperidine
  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Carfentanil

Another potential difference between an opiate and an opioid is potency. All opiates/opioids are strong enough to trigger addiction in certain circumstances. You can also overdose on any of them if you use them excessively. However, certain opioids present more significant risks for these problems than the typical opiate.

Two prominent examples here are fentanyl and carfentanil. Fentanyl’s potency is 50 to 100 times that of morphine. In turn, carfentanil is roughly 100 times stronger than fentanyl. These levels of potency create greatly enhanced risks of severe problems.

Learn More About Opiates Vs. Opioids at Northpoint Colorado

Have more questions about opiates and opioids? Ask the professionals at Northpoint Colorado. We’re happy to explain more about the effects of opioids vs. opiates. We can also help you assess your level of risk from these substances.

Northpoint Colorado specializes in opiate treatment. We offer the same level of expertise for opioid treatment. No matter which of these substances is in your system, we can help you overcome addiction. Want more information on our customized care plans? Just call us today 888.231.1281. You can also reach us through our brief online form.