Explaining the Difference Between Opiates and Opioids

Explaining the Difference Between Opiates and Opioids

With the opioid epidemic ravaging the nation and being labeled a “national emergency” by our commander in chief, everyone should be aware of what is going on. Thankfully, many are starting to ask the questions they need to learn enough about this subject to spread awareness themselves. One of the most commonly asked questions is, “What is the difference between opiates and opioids?” So, in this article, we’ll be explaining the difference between the two drug classes so that more individuals will know about the dangers of both.

What are Opiates and Opioids?

Opiates and opioids are both classifications of drug types. And, the characterizing difference between the two is how they are developed. Essentially, the difference is that opiates are derived from naturally occurring substances and opioids are synthetically produced to mirror the chemical components of their cousin drugs, opiates. All opiates include opium, which is the active drug extracted from the sap of a poppy plant. Opium itself is an opiate, but it’s also used in the manufacturing of morphine, heroin, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and codeine. Opioids, on the other hand, are synthetically produced to mirror the chemical components of opium so that they offer like effects. But, because of their prescription use and increasing sales with each new year, they have become an even more dangerous class of drugs than even opiates.

So, Which is More Dangerous; Opiates or Opioids?

When it comes to determining which class is more dangerous, there really isn’t much of a difference. The effects of these drugs are extremely similar or even the same. The main and more characterizing distinction between the two is simply how it’s manufactured. But, they all are potent, addiction forming, lead to withdrawals upon dependence, and can even lead to death by overdose. The truth is that BOTH classes of drugs are extremely dangerous. And, both kill.

So, Why is the Epidemic Labeled the “Opioid” Epidemic Rather than “Opiate”?

If the idea of opioids and even the result of their creation opiates, then why aren’t we calling the epidemic the “opiate epidemic”? Well, addiction to these drugs often happens because doctors prescribe opioids as a way to manage pain. In a medical setting, these drugs are helpful to reduce pain for patients recovering from surgery, injury, or illness. But, for everyday aches and pains, these drugs are more dangerous than helpful. After just one bottle, individuals find themselves experiencing withdrawal symptoms. This developed dependence and lack of refills often cause individuals to seek their fix on the street with opiates like heroin. So, while opiates are just as dangerous, opioids are the reason people, who would otherwise never use addictive drugs, develop an addiction.

Recovering from an Opiate or Opioid Addiction

While these drugs are leading to thousands of deaths a year and even hundreds of deaths every day, there is hope for those who are addicted and still on this earth. But, with each new day, the risk of overdose increases. That’s why it’s so important to seek help as soon as possible. Don’t be another statistic. Don’t allow your family and loved ones to suffer your death because you wouldn’t get the help you need to live another day. If you think that you’re ready to get help for an opioid or opiate addiction, YOU ARE. Give the Lily Pad of St. Augustine a call today to speak with an experienced addiction specialist at 561-758-1011.


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