Opiate vs Opioid

The difference between Opiate and Opioid

The two terms opiate and opioid are quite similar sounding word. However, they do not have the same definition. News stories and popular articles often warn of the dangers of opioids and opiates. But, many people often do not know the difference between opiate vs. opioid.

What are Opiates?

What is opiate vs. opioid? Opiates and opioids are in reference to the derivative that is known as opium. Opium comes from the poppy plant. These flowers are harvested primarily for their seed pods. This is because the seed pods have long been known to contain many medicinal properties. This includes pain relief. However, these seed pods can also cause psychoactive effects. Both types of results are caused by the opium alkaloids that are found in the seed pods. These alkaloids can sometimes be referred to as opiates. In other words, opiates are naturally occurring chemical compounds in the poppy plant. There are three main types of alkaloids. These types can be used in how they are derived from the plant or synthesized to create other compounds.


Of the poppy plant, the most found alkaloid is morphine. Morphine, for many years, has been used medicinally. Morphine is used in a variety of different ways in the medical community, serving many purposes. However, morphine is most commonly utilized as a means of pain management. One recreational drug that is derived from morphine is heroin. While they are not completely the same substance, they are chemically similar.


Codeine can also be found in the poppy plant, but in smaller amounts than morphine. Codeine is also highly regarded in the medical community. It can be utilized as a pharmaceutical compound or used to create semisynthetic compounds. Codeine is primarily used for pain relief.


While thebaine is a toxic compound, it is essential for many medications in the medical community. This includes the creation of oxycodone. Thebaine is also utilized to create other semisynthetic compounds.

What are Opioids?

Opioids sound similar to opiates. However, they are vastly different. The term opioids refer to any chemical compound that interacts with opioid receptors. These receptors can be found in several different areas of your body, including the digestive tract and the brain. The body does produce its own natural opioids. However, opioids can also be injected or inhaled. There is overlap in the two terms due to opioids encompassing opium alkaloids, as they interact with the receptors. Rule of thumb is that anything that interacts with the opioid receptors can be considered an opioid.

Drugs that are Opioids

The drugs that were listed under the “Drugs that are Opiates” section can also fall under this section. That is because they both interact with the opioid receptors. These drugs include Fentanyl, Methadone, and Meperidine.

What Are Narcotics?

Traditionally, narcotics meant a substance that was illegal or legal that relieved pain, but also caused psychoactive effects. This could be a loss of consciousness or dulling of the senses. Drugs that were abused were referred to as narcotics. However, narcotics are now primarily used to refer to opioids.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a disease that affects many individuals across the nation. Those who are suffering from addiction can experience a wide variety of different symptoms. It is important to remember that the recovery process cannot be started unless the individual who is experiencing addiction gets professional help. Left untreated, addiction could lead to severe symptoms and may even lead to death.

Opiate vs Opioid

Addiction is considered a brain disease by the medical community. This is due to how the brain reacts to the substance. When we experience something positive or pleasant, our brain releases dopamine. This feel-good hormone tells our brain that this is something we want to repeat in the future. Substances, when they enter the body, interact abnormally with the brain’s receptors. This can cause an increase in dopamine production that cannot be replicated naturally. This can cause a shift in the brain’s chemistry and cause a person to continuously seek out more of the substance, resulting in an addiction.

What if I Suspect My Loved One is Suffering From Addiction?

If you suspect your loved one is suffering from an addiction, you may be left confused. You may not know how to handle the situation. The most important thing is that your loved one seeks out the help that they need. When speaking with your loved one, inform them that they can be open and honest with you about anything. Create a safe space for your loved one, so they feel more inclined to confide in you, allowing you to guide them towards recovery.

Leave judgment out of the equation when speaking with your loved one. Chances are, your loved one is already feeling guilty and ashamed for their actions. Remind them that you care about them and only present them with the facts. Presenting the facts makes an argument difficult to spark. Please keep the conversation open and touch-back on it often.

The Time to Seek Help is Now

Addiction is a powerful and chronic illness that can cause severe symptoms and may even lead to death. It is crucial that those suffering seek out professional help. Addiction is not something you will be able to overcome without the help of healthcare professionals. Reaching out to a professional will help you or your loved one garner an individualized plan for recovery, helping you or your loved one turn over a new leaf.