Opiates and opioids are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they do have distinct meanings. Learning more about the differences between opiates vs. opioids, in terms of their composition and effects on the body, helps gain a deeper insight into how opiates and opioids impact people’s lives and what steps can be taken toward recovery.
Opiates Vs. Opioids: An Overview
In the world of drugs and medications, opiates and opioids are two commonly used terms that often get mixed up or used interchangeably. However, it’s essential to understand that there are significant differences between these two classes of substances.
Opiates specifically refer to natural substances derived from opium poppy plants, such as morphine and codeine. These compounds have been used for centuries for their pain-relieving effects and can be highly addictive.
On the other hand, opioids encompass a broader category that includes both natural opiates like those mentioned earlier, as well as synthetic or semi-synthetic drugs developed in laboratories, such as heroin and fentanyl.
Effects of Opiates
Opiates, including natural substances like morphine and codeine, have potent effects on the body. When consumed, they bind to opioid receptors in the brain and throughout the central nervous system, reducing pain sensations and causing a feeling of euphoria.
The immediate effects of opiates can include pain relief, sedation, relaxation, and a sense of well-being. They also act as respiratory depressants, slowing down breathing rates. However, these short-term benefits can quickly turn into long-term issues if opiates are misused or abused.
Extended use of opiates can lead to tolerance building up over time – meaning that higher doses are required to achieve the same level of effect. This can quickly spiral into addiction, where individuals feel compelled to keep using opioids despite negative consequences.
Effects of Opioids
Opioid drugs have powerful effects on the body, similar to opiates. When consumed, they interact with opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, altering pain perception and inducing a sense of euphoria.
The effects of opioids can include pain relief, relaxation, drowsiness, respiratory depression, constipation, and nausea. Like opiates, prolonged use or misuse of opioids can lead to tolerance development and physical dependence.
One crucial distinction is that synthetic opioids like fentanyl are significantly more potent than natural opiates or semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone. This heightened potency increases the risk of overdose and contributes to the ongoing opioid crisis we currently face.
Commonly Abused Opiates
There are several commonly abused opiates that individuals may misuse or become addicted to. Some of the most frequently abused opiate drugs include:
- Morphine: A powerful painkiller often prescribed after surgery or for managing chronic pain conditions.
- Codeine: Typically found in prescription cough syrups and used for mild to moderate pain relief.
- Heroin: An illicit drug derived from morphine that can be injected, smoked, or snorted to produce intense euphoria. Heroin is highly addictive and poses numerous health risks.
Commonly Abused Opioids
Several commonly abused opioids include:
- Fentanyl: This is a synthetic opioid that is significantly more potent than other opioids. It is often illegally manufactured and mixed with other drugs, leading to a high risk of overdose.
- Methadone: Primarily used in medication-assisted treatment programs for individuals struggling with opioid addiction, methadone can also be misused due to its euphoric effects.
- Tramadol: Although it is classified as a synthetic opioid, tramadol has both opioid and non-opioid mechanisms of action. It is frequently prescribed for moderate to severe pain but carries a potential for abuse.
- Oxycodone: Frequently prescribed as OxyContin, Percocet, or Roxicodone, it is a potent semi-synthetic opioid used for severe pain management that is often misused.
- Oxymorphone: This is another semi-synthetic opioid similar to oxycodone but with higher potency.
- Hydrocodone: Commonly combined with acetaminophen in medications like Vicodin and Norco, hydrocodone is an effective analgesic but carries a high risk of addiction.
Opiates Vs. Opioids Withdrawal
Both opiates and opioids can result in withdrawal symptoms when their use is abruptly stopped or significantly reduced. Opiate withdrawal refers specifically to the symptoms that occur after discontinuing natural opiate drugs, while opioid withdrawal encompasses the effects experienced from natural opiates, semi-synthetic, and synthetic opioids.
Withdrawal from opiates or opioids typically involves a range of physical and psychological symptoms, which may include:
- Flu-like symptoms, muscle aches, sweating, chills, and runny nose
- Gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps
- Restlessness, irritability, anxiety, or depression
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances
- Excessive yawning or tearing up of eyes
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
The severity and duration of withdrawal can vary depending on several factors, including the specific drug used, duration of use, and dosage consumed. Managing opioid withdrawal involves medical supervision along with various interventions to alleviate discomfort and ensure safety throughout the process, such as gradual tapering and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
Opiate and Opioid Gender-Specific Treatment in Columbus, OH
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