The Difference Between Opiates and Opioids

Opiates and Opioids have been garnering national attention this year as the effects of these drugs have wrecked havoc on many American cities and towns. The devastations that these drugs have wrought onto communities throughout the country is best displayed by a recent expose showing that in South Florida there is an overdose from opioids ever 2 hours. Since 2015 1,400 deaths were attributed to opioids in South Florida, and a similar upswing in deaths can be seen throughout the nation.

A few months ago President Obama addressed the nation about this crisis, vowing to take measures to help curb the growing public health problem, and in doing so the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act was introduced into Congress and passed through into law a few months later. However, these measures and the growing awareness within the general public about the opioid problem in this country have done little as of yet to help reduce the number of overdoses and deaths that are still steadily rising across the country.

For many people, opiates and opioids have become synonymous. When these terms are used interchangeably, the people using them are referring to an opium-based drug that acts as a painkiller, but their original meanings actually differ.

What are Opiates?

Opiates are alkaloid compounds that are naturally occurring in the Opium poppy plant. Opium has been used for hundreds of years as an analgesic, and its potency and ability to block pain were unmatched. Over the years, a number of other substances have been derived from the opiates in the poppy plant. Among the most well known are morphine, heroin, and codeine. While many of these substances are semi-synthetic, they differ from their opioid counterparts in that opiates are the base of their compound.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are synthetic or semi-synthetic drugs that are created in order to work in a similar manner to opiates. The active ingredient giving them their analgesic properties is often made through chemical synthesis and they are sometimes much stronger than their opiate equivalent. Some of the most common opioids are Oxycodone, Methadone, Vicodin, Dilaudid, and Fentanyl.


Opiates and Opioids Addiction

For years, the addictive properties of opiates have been known but opioid addiction is a fairly new concept. Oxycontin is the basis for this new wave of addiction and when it was first introduced onto the market in the 1990s it was said to be a safer, less addictive painkiller than its opiate based peers. This, however, turned out to not be true and Oxycontin was deemed to be as addictive, if not more addictive than heroin, morphine, etc.

An entire generation of people was lead to believe that opioids were safe for usage, only to become grasped in the snare of addiction before they knew what was happening. Many of these people initially started using opioids under the care of a doctor for legitimate medical purposes, but in time they were unable to stop using the drugs and many had to turn to cheaper alternatives, such as heroin, in order to feed their addiction.

Opioids are equally or more dangerous than opiates and the latest rash of deaths in Miami-Dade and Broward County have been linked to heroin that is cut with Fentanyl. Since opioids are synthetic in nature, their potency is often times much stronger than anything that could occur naturally and so when people are using drugs that are laced with a synthetic, they run a much higher risk of overdose and death.

The addiction that a person experiences to opiates and opioids is essentially the same since both drugs interact with the brain in the same manner and the withdrawal symptoms attributed to both are usually similar. A person who is addicted to either drug will experience flu-like symptoms, an inability to regulate body temperature, stomach cramps and diarrhea, and intense muscle aches.

However, the withdrawal symptoms for traditional opiates usually last 3 days to a week, but opioid withdrawal can last much longer. Methadone withdrawal has been known to last for up to a month and a person who is withdrawing off of Suboxone can experience withdrawals for a similar length of time.

Withdrawal from either of these drug types is very rarely fatal but it can be exceedingly uncomfortable and difficult to handle alone. If you find that you are addicted to some form of opiate or opioid, then you should contact professionals in order to begin the detoxification process.

What Does the Future Hold?

If the past few months are any indicator, then we are nowhere near a solution for the growing epidemic of opioid abuse in this country. It is a great thing that people are finally taking notice of this mounting problem, but with the political clout and money that many pharmaceutical companies can bring to bear in keeping their product on the market, it will be difficult to help stem the tide of addiction that has crept over the country in the past 20 years.

At this point, it is more difficult to get synthetic opioids than it has been in the past, but they are still readily available on the street and once people move onto heroin or other opiates, the problem only amplifies. Hopefully, in time, we will learn as a society how to best handle these two types of drugs and get people the much needed help they require. Hopefully, the awareness that the public has now will help bring this about.

Seeking Treatment for Opiate or Opioid Addiction

If you find that when you attempt to stop using you cannot stay stopped then you may have a problem with addiction. Attempting to win this battle on your own is a losing proposition, so call the professionals at Dream Center for Recovery today at 1-877-978-3148. Our trained staff has extensive experience with dealing with these sorts of addictions and knows exactly what you need in order to finally overcome your problems. There is no need to continue to struggle alone, call us today and begin your journey into recovery.