Many of us hear about opioids when watching the news and a story about the opioid crisis in America airs. During these stories, as well as other conversations, you might also hear about opiates. While we often hear these words interchangeably, there are some key differences. That is where much confusion occurs regarding these drugs. That is why here at ALEF Reidsville are discussing the difference between opiates and opioids in this guide.
When someone naturally produces substances from opium poppy flowers, they are creating opiates. Because opiates attach the same opioid receptors in the brain as opioids, they act similarly regarding pain and pleasure control. Physicians prescribe and administer opiates as painkillers the same way they do for opioids.
Examples of Opiates
When you look at the difference between opiates and opioids, the first thing you are going to notice is that many of them are also opioids. That is also where a lot of the confusion comes into play. It is not uncommon for patients to hear the following compounds and drugs referred to as opiates:
The similarity between these words makes it challenging to understand the difference between opiates and opioids for many. Even though these substances work similarly, the key difference is their production. For example, opiates are natural because they come from the poppy flower. However, opioids have a partial or complete synthetic makeup and not found in nature. The examples in the previous section are also opioids. Opioids have semi-synthetic counterparts in addition to natural alkaloids. Here are examples of fully synthetic opioid drugs:
Statistics Regarding Opioids and America’s Crisis
The difference between opiates and opioids does not mean that one substance is worse than the other. When you look at the statistics for these drugs, the crisis in America focuses on opioids. Data captured by the National Institute on Drug Abuse reveal that:
- During 2018, 128 people died from opioid overdoses daily
- Between 21 and 29% of patients who receive an opioid prescription misuse them
- Opioid use disorders occur in between eight and 12% of people
- Approximately 80% of heroin users misused prescription opioids first
Warning Signs of Opiate and Opioid Addiction
Another thing you are going to notice when looking at the difference between opiates and opioids is that they are both physically addictive. That is why we all should know about the warnings signs for addiction. Otherwise, misuse could lead to developing an addiction or experiencing an overdose. There is no difference between these drugs regarding the harm they cause. For example, consider some of these warning signs:
- Continuing to use medications despite their negative consequences
- Having to take more due to the growth of tolerance
- Hobbies that you enjoyed previously are no longer a part of your routines
- Thinking obsessively about using the medication
- Trying to stop, but not being able to
- Using these medications when driving or when operating heavy machinery
Understanding Why We Hear These Terms Interchangeably
Dispelling the difference between opiates and opioids is mostly about their production. Because they have the same effect when attaching to your brain’s opioid receptors, all opiates are opioids. That is why the terms are often used interchangeably during news announcements and other data-driven documentation. The critical difference between opiates and opioids is that opiates are made naturally from a poppy plant.
Do you have questions about if there is a difference between opiates and opioids? Are you worried that you or a loved one has developed an addiction? No one should have to navigate these concerns without the best help. Contact ALEF Reidsville at 833.916.0562 to learn more about the similarities and differences between these drugs. Also, explore our opioid addiction treatment programs to see how we can help.