Opioid vs Opiate

Opioid vs Opiate

The epidemic of this substance in the United States is a serious issue in the country. Over a hundred overdose deaths have been reported daily and on top of that, a surge of newborns suffering from substance abuse has also become evident.

These two substances, regardless of their nature, can be highly addictive and vulnerable to misuse. But despite this, they remain undeniably essential in the medical industry. These two terms may often be used synonymously but they are distinct from each other.

What Are These Substances?

Opioid vs OpiateOpiates are naturally-induced molecules from the opium poppy plant while the other compound is partly or completely synthetic, which means they are chemically created in a lab. These substances act on the body’s nerve cells and prevent the brain from identifying any pain that exists in any part of the body.

Drugs containing these substances are classified as a narcotic analgesic, a kind of medicine whose main function is to relieve pain. They are very much useful in treatment after surgery as well as other illnesses associated with chronic pain. These substances also contain an element that induces sleep and numbness.

Without an accurate prescription by a healthcare professional, individuals are at risk of substance addiction. They make the person build a tolerance to medication and experience euphoria. They also bring about withdrawal symptoms whose impact varies depending on the amount and length of use.

Which Drugs Are Synthetically Made?

As time progressed, it has been medically acceptable to term both natural and synthetic substances that act on the body’s receptors as narcotics. There is no significant difference so far in terms of the impact of these substances in the body – whether natural or synthetic. Both are medically effective and susceptible to addiction.

All drugs which bind to the body’s receptors and stimulate it are also known as agonists. They can be classified as opiates (the natural kind), semi-synthetic (partly natural and synthetic), and synthetic (completely chemically-created). The following are the specific drugs that count as agonists:


The opium poppy plant contains substances such as morphine and codeine. Thebaine can also be extracted from these substances but only in small amounts. The pods of the plant also release latex which is dried to create opium. In other words, Morphine, Codeine, Thebaine, and Opium are substances medically prescribed to treat patients.


Thebaine, an opiate alkaloid, is commonly used as a key ingredient in some drugs. This is what makes certain drugs semi-synthetic. A naturally extracted substance is mixed with chemically-created ones and the results are drugs such as Heroin, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, and Oxycodone.


Drugs classified as synthetic are entirely generated by humans. They mimic the effects of natural substances yet they completely vary in chemical makeup. Drugs classified as synthetic include Methadone, Fentanyl, Meperidine, Tramadol, and Levorphanol. These drugs are highly susceptible to illegal manufacture and sale.

Which Drugs Counteract The Effects of Narcotics?

Contrary to substance agonists which stimulate the body’s receptors and give a euphoric effect to the user, antagonists refer to drugs that bind with these receptors to block the effect of substance agonists. They are considered safe and effective since they do not produce a high among its users. The following are the most common substance antagonists:


NaltrexoneNaltrexone is an antagonist which decreases a person’s cravings for the substance and prevents them from relapsing. This is usually prescribed by a healthcare professional and is essentially used in conjunction with therapies and counseling upon treatment. It is important to abstain from substance use for at least seven days before taking Naltrexone.

Withdrawal symptoms from taking Naltrexone alone are very unlikely unless there are underlying issues that need to be medically addressed. Despite its non-addictive potential, withdrawal symptoms can occur when substance abuse is continuously practiced.


Naloxone is a substance antagonist which functions to reverse overdose from narcotic analgesics. Unlike Naltrexone which must come with a prescription, Naloxone can be purchased over the counter – although this also depends on which state you are in. When a person suspects someone at home under substance addiction, Naloxone can be kept as first aid.

The nasal sprays can be safely administered by non-medical individuals for emergency use while the syringes are strictly for healthcare professionals only. This medicine is not a controlled drug and definitely has no potential to cause addiction.

Detox Treatment for Opioids

Medically-assisted detoxMedically-assisted detox is the primary stage in treating substance addiction. It requires the patient to abstain from using the substance so that the body may get rid of it entirely and be stabilized for further treatment. Medicines are necessary to manage the withdrawal symptoms of the patient.

The doctor will prescribe a medicine for the patient to reduce his or her cravings while undertaking the detox process. Although these are controlled substances, they can be effective in reducing cravings and managing withdrawal symptoms. These substances are Methadone and Buprenorphine. They act on the body’s receptors and stimulate it without releasing euphoria.

These medicines still pose the risk of addiction but when closely supervised by a healthcare professional, the medication can be safe and effective. To avoid experiencing withdrawal, the physician will gradually taper off the dosage of the patient. The following are the substance agonists useful in detox treatment.


This compound is a prescription painkiller used for alleviating pain and discomfort during detoxification. It slowly takes effect on the body compared to other painkillers and prevents stronger substances from influencing the body to feel high. Treatment may reach at least a year depending on the condition of the patient.


Buprenorphine is also classified as synthetic and is considered safer compared to Methadone. This compound also has a lower risk for addiction and dependence than other medications. It is known as a partial agonist in the mu receptor and at the same time an antagonist in the kappa receptor. This medication works best in conjunction with counseling and behavioral therapy.

Always remember that treatment of addiction requires commitment and hard work from the patient as well as professional healthcare support from a treatment provider. For better and long-lasting recovery, seek professional help now!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *