The Major Differences between Opiates and Opioids

Generally, there is a common misconception on the difference between opioids and opiatesbecause they have a similar effect on the human body. People tend to use these terms interchangeably and confuse them. Both opioids and opiates interact with the neuroreceptors to cause a narcotic effect.

What is the difference between Opiates and Opioids?

The main difference between Opioids and Opiatesis its mode of synthesis. Opiates are narcotic substances which are obtained from the poppy plant. Because it is derived from a natural plant, Opiates can be called natural narcotic substances. In comparison, Opioids are narcotic substances which are synthesized fully or partially in artificial human-made methods. Opioids have similar chemical structures and properties as Opioids, and therefore the two are easily confused.

Opioids vs. Opiates –

Examples of Opiates: Morphine, Thebaine, Opium, Codeine, etc. (They are obtained from the poppy plant)

Examples of Opioids:  Meperidine (Demerol), Levorphanol (Levo-Dromoran), Methadone, Tramadol.

Opioids vs. Opiates: a comparison 

Opioids Opiates
They are entirely synthetically produced by man-made processes. They are obtained naturally from the poppy plant.
Opioids have different chemical structures but similar effects as opiates. Their chemical structure affects the neuroreceptors known as opiate receptors to cause a narcotic effect.
All opioids are not opiates. All opiates are generally referred to as opioids.
Synthetic opioids usually are more addictive and potent compared to opiates. Opiates are lesser in their addictive and potency properties compared to synthetic opioids.
Higher potency causes drastic effects. Lower potency causes less devastating effects.
The faster rate of chemical dependency. The slower rate of chemical dependency compared to Opioids.
High potent drugs cause harsher withdrawal symptoms Lesser strength for the withdrawal symptoms due to lower potency.

 Opiate Dependence Recovery

Opiates are highly addictive drugs, and recovering from them is a challenging, long process. Relapses occur commonly, which makes it tough for the patient to detoxify themselves from the narcotic. Opiate detoxification centers have Opiate Dependence Recovery programs that provide medical and psychological assistance to overcome the addiction.

Some of the medications used are:

  1. Methadone – ease cravings and eliminates withdrawal symptoms
  2. Clonidine – controls the ‘fight or flight’ response of the brain which is increased during the addiction
  3. Naloxone – eliminates the sensation of feeling high

Some of the psychological treatments are:

  1. Support groups – to provide a community of survivors to share and support each other
  2. Behavioral therapy – to provide psychological assistance to gain motivation and look forward to life by overcoming the addiction.

We know that there isn’t much difference between Opioids and Opiates, but the result is the same – a life-altering drug addiction. This has physiological and psychological effects that could induce a coma or even death.