It is not uncommon for individuals to use the terms opiates and opioids interchangeably. Yet, these terms do represent two different, though very similar, classes of drugs. What is the difference between opiate vs. opioid? Understanding the difference can help individuals understand the kind of treatment they need should they or a loved one develop a substance use disorder.
We understand that each kind of drug requires a unique treatment approach. We can help you learn the difference between opiate vs. opioid and show you how they are similar and how they differ. At we, we provide outpatient treatment for opiate and opioid addiction to help you heal and recover.
Differences Between Opiates and Opioids
The biggest difference between an opiate vs. opioid is that the opioids are artificial or synthetically manufactured while opiates are naturally occurring. Some examples of opiates include morphine, heroin, and fentanyl. Some examples of opioids include oxycodone, such as OxyContin and Percocet.
Unlike opiates, pharmacologists tend to have more precise control over the strength of opioids. Thus, opioids are used more frequently as medications. Since opioids are artificial, they are designed to work on specific cell receptors in the brain. Opiates and opioids release different endorphins, which affect individuals in different ways. However, both types of drugs are used to relieve pain. Unfortunately, because they are more readily available and frequently prescribed by doctors, opioids are more frequently misused, which can easily lead to dependency or addiction.
When dependency or addiction occurs, individuals need a unique form of treatment to address their needs as their body becomes reliant on the drugs to function. Studies have shown that the most effective form of addiction treatment for opioid and opiate addiction is medication-assisted treatment or MAT. Our outpatient MAT program utilizes a combination of medications and behavioral therapies to help individuals recover from their drug addiction.
Opiate vs. Opioid: Similarities
Both opioids and opiates depress the central nervous system, interfering with the brain’s signals through the nervous system throughout the body. Thus, while different in their chemical make-up, an opiate and an opioid have similar effects on a user’s body. When abused, both opiates and opioids can lead to serious medical issues. Some commonly shared effects of opioids vs. opiates include:
- Drowsiness: Opioids and opiates depress the normal functioning of the body. As a result, they can cause the user to become extremely drowsy or sleepy. A high dosage taken at once can cause a coma or death.
- Fatigue: Lethargy is an extreme form of fatigue. When someone abuses opiates or opioids, they usually lack the energy or focus to perform the most basic daily tasks.
- Respiratory Issues: Because opiates and opioids slow down the body’s natural processes, certain major organs can be greatly affected. A person abusing opioids or opiates may struggle to breathe properly.
- Slowed Heart Rate: The heart also slows down in response to the effects of opioid drugs and opiates. Like the lungs, if the heart slows too much, the situation can prove to be life-threatening.
- Nausea and Vomiting: Many people who abuse opioids and opiates experience severe gastrointestinal distress. These symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, constipation, and crippling stomach cramps.
- Paranoia or Anxiety: Emotional changes can also occur as a result of misusing or abusing opioids and opiates. Those abusing these drugs may become anxious or extremely paranoid in ordinary situations.