Opiates and Opioids- What’s the Difference?
If you’ve searched the internet for opiate addiction, you’ve likely found results for both opiate and opioid addiction. For the purposes of addiction recovery, the difference between these terms does not matter too much, but understanding what each one means can be beneficial when researching addiction.
- Opiates – Opiates are a natural extract from opium. Opium contains morphine and codeine and is used in the production of both these drugs, among others.
- Opioids – This is the synthetic version of opiates. They have similar properties, but are man-made and used for the manufacturing of heroin, methadone, oxycodone, and other substances.
Differentiating between these terms is slowly fading out of fashion, and it is expected that either opiates or opioids will become the dominating term at some point.
Commonly Abused Opiates
When prescribed a painkiller, patients may not be made aware that they are taking an opiate. Opiates are used in a wide variety of pain medications using different brand names. There are two main types of opiates: antagonists and agonists.
Antagonists are often used during detoxification to ween patients off opiate addiction. These are the less addictive version of opiates and can help patients manage withdrawal symptoms.
Agonists are more powerful opiates that replicate the effect of endorphins. Powerful pain killers, such as morphine and fentanyl, are made with agonists and have a high potential for abuse.
The following are some commonly found opiates:
- Codeine – A less potent painkiller used to treat moderate pain. Can be found in some over-the-counter medications. People abusing the drug will often mix it with sugary drinks.
- Darvocet & Darvon – This is a powerful painkiller that has resulted in numerous deaths and hospitalizations. It has since been banned by the FDA, but can still be found on the black market.
- Fentanyl – A highly potent synthetic painkiller prescribed to treat patients in extreme pain. Abusing this drug can easily lead to overdose when used with other painkillers.
- Methadone – Typically used in detox, methadone is a less potent painkiller that still has a risk of creating an addiction.
- Morphine – One of the most common prescription painkillers, and one of the most commonly abused opiates.
- Oxycodone & OxyContin – These drugs can be found under many different brand names. They are commonly prescribed for pain treatment and frequently abused.
What to Expect From Treatment
Once you or your loved one has decided to address an opiate addiction, the first step is to undergo detoxification. Completely cutting yourself off from a painkiller right away is dangerous. In detox, patients are monitored during withdrawal and given treatment to help manage the symptoms.
Detox should be followed with a stay at an inpatient rehabilitation facility like The Carter Treatment Center. During this phase of treatment, patients will be removed from temptations to use and spend the majority of their day in therapy and therapeutic activities. This is also an opportunity to make connections and establish a sense of community.
Following inpatient rehab, patients will resume their normal lives. This is a challenging step, but not one that anyone needs to do alone. We maintain several outpatient treatment centers throughout Georgia. These centers give patients a safe space to discuss the successes and challenges of recovery with trained rehab professionals, as well as others in recovery.
Start Your Recovery at The Carter Treatment Center
The Carter Treatment Center allows you an opportunity to overcome addiction in a safe, monitored environment. Trying to recover from addiction alone is virtually impossible and increases the chance of suffering a relapse. Our knowledgeable and dedicated team can start developing your treatment plan for long-term recovery.
Painkillers work by creating artificial endorphins that block pain and create a pleasant feeling. While effective, it is easy to see how this sensation could develop an addiction in some people. Like most drugs, the body builds a tolerance to opiates over time. This results in increased consumption to feel the effects, which in turn leads to more potent side effects and a risk of overdosing.
If you or a loved one take painkillers, you should speak with a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Reduced coordination
- Lethargy and drowsiness
- Slurred speech
- Mood swings
- Anxiety attacks
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
If you find yourself craving painkillers or other opiate substances, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Addictions can build gradually over time, allowing you to rationalize increased usage as it develops into a problem. Once an addiction has taken hold, professional rehabilitation is needed.