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The Difference Between Opioids and Opiates

Overdose and death statistics
Overdose and death statistics
Overdose and death statistics

Opiates are drugs developed from opium.

At one time “opioids” referred to synthetic opiates only .  Currently the term Opioid is used for the broader family of opiates including natural, synthetic and semi-synthetic. Clinical professionals use the word opioid to refer to most opioids, and opiate for a specific non-synthetic opioid.  We typically uses “opioid” to refer to all opioids and opiates.

There are four broad classes of opioids:

Natural Opiates

The drugs on the opiates list come from the alkaloid materials found in the opium poppy seed plant.  Opium poppy seed plants contain a high concentration of morphine-derived alkaloids, which accounts for why morphine is one of the strongest opiates known. Codeine-derived alkaloids make up the second highest concentration.

Natural opiate drug types include

  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Oripavine
  • Thebaine

Synthetic Opiate Drugs

The synthetic opiates are manufactured drugs and they are intended for treating pain symptoms. Though manufactured to resemble natural alkaloid substances, these synthetic drugs are considerably higher potency than natural alkaloids.

Synthetic opiate drug types include:

  • Lortab
  • Demerol
  • Atarax
  • Dilaudid
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone
  • Suboxone
  • Subutex
  • Naltrexone
  • Naloxone

Semi-synthetic Opiates

Semi-synthetic opiates contain a small amount of natural opium alkaloids combined with synthetic agents. The semi-synthetic opiates drug types include:

  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Hydrocodone

The natural alkaloids used in the making of semi-synthetic opiates include:

  • Codeine – for hydrocodone
  • Morphine – for hydromorphone
  • Thebaine – for oxymorphone and oxycodone

Summary and video on the Differences Between Opioids and Opiates

Understanding these drugs, their differences, similarities and potency helps us to address the abuse and addiction to opioids.  We have also included and educational video from the The Drug Classroom (TDC) which will shed even more light on these drugs. Drugs are never going to leave our society and there has never been a society free from drugs but stemming the tide of drug abuse and drug addiction is something we can do.

And note, if you are a loved one is tangled in opioid abuse or addiction there is help. Our hotline is answered 24/7 and we can help give you some guidance and possibly help you get the treatment you need.  Call now. 1-888-784-6641

Also read the National Opiate Hotline Heroin  Facts