The difference between opiates and opioids explained
We have been hearing a lot lately about opioid addiction but what is the difference between opioids and opiates? It basically comes down to synthetic vs natural.
We have been hearing a lot lately about opioid addiction but what is the difference between opioids and opiates?
It basically comes down to synthetic vs natural.
Opiates are narcotics derived directly from the poppy flower, such a opium, heroin and morphine.
Opioids are chemical compounds - natural or synthetic - that act on opioid receptors, which are distributed widely in the brain, and are found in the spinal cord and digestive tract.
In other words, opiates are opioids, but not all opioids are opiates.
Synthetic opioids not considered opiates include the widely prescribed painkillers hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), and fentanyl.
The growth of opioid addiction is being traced to the use of synthetic opioids to control pain.
Opioids also produce euphoria and this has resulted in a large number of patients taking more than their prescribed doses and becoming addicted.
Once addicted, a user might turn to opiates such as heroin because they tend to be cheaper than prescription narcotics obtained illegally.
A major problem is that the quality of heroin is not consistent and it is sometimes cut with fentanyl, which is an extremely powerful synthetic opioid and has been cited in a number of overdose deaths.
Doctors in the Philadelphia area in the meantime think a new, deadlier synthetic opioid called W-18 used to cut heroin has contributed to overdose deaths the region even in cases where antidote drug naloxone (Narcan) has been administered.
Efforts to prevent opioid addiction are focusing on dialing back the prescription and use of synthetic opioids for pain management.