Opiate VS Opioid. What is the difference?

Opiate VS Opioid

What is an opiate?

The word opiate generally refers to naturally occurring drugs that bind to receptors found in the human body known as opioid receptors. Opiates are derived from the opium poppy plant. Morphine is an example of an opiate.  Codeine is another. Heroin is synthesized from morphine and is in a category known as semi-synthetic opioids. So, here is where the confusion between opiate and opioid begin. Heroin, a major drug of abuse all over the world, is not an opiate, yet it is often referred to as an opiate.

So, is heroin an opiate or not?

It really depends on who you ask. It can go either way. You are not wrong to call heroin an opiate, though the original definition did exclude semi-synthetics like heroin.

What is an opioid?

The word opioid is the safe term to use for the category of drugs that bind to the opioid receptor. It includes the naturally occurring opiates that are derived from the opium poppy plant.  It also includes all of the semi-synthetic and synthetic drugs that act on the same opioid receptors and have similar effects.

What do opioids and opiates do?

These substances are drugs. They are manufactured as prescription medications. The most common use is to manage physical pain. Some opioids, such as heroin, are considered by the US government to have no legitimate medical use. Hence, heroin is illegal in the US.

Why are opioids and opiates dangerous?

These drugs are dangerous for two main reasons. First, they are addicting. Many users of opioids and opiates will get a good feeling known as euphoria. This euphoria leads to changes in the brain known as addiction. Addiction causes cravings for more drug. An addict can never get enough. The addict will self medicate and progressively increase the dosage and frequency of the drug. Second, opioids and opiates have a very dangerous side effect known as respiratory depression. If you take too much, your breathing slows down and stops.

When a person stops breathing, they die.

The only hope for survival is immediate access to emergency treatment. This could involve a paramedic inserting a tube into the patient’s airway and using a bag to assist breathing. If emergency medical services are not immediately available, another chance is to have a naloxone auto-injector on hand.  Evzio is a brand name for this device.  It can provide multiple injections. The device speaks and guides the user. I recommend asking your doctor about Evzio. Insurance companies will pay for it for family, friends, or anyone who lives with or is in regular contact with someone who uses opioids or opiates.

How do I quit?

The distinction between the terms becomes pointless in light of the desperation of active addiction. All you want to know is how to stop. There is a special, unique opioid known as buprenorphine. This medication can save the life of the opioid addict.

How does buprenorphine save lives?

If you are addicted to opioids, you have a high risk of dying. This is especially true if you are using heroin. Heroin is increasingly being mixed with or replaced by potent synthetic analogs of a drug known as fentanyl. This street drug is often extremely potent and deadly. It only takes one mistake to lead to overdose death. buprenorphine is a replacement drug. it blocks the opioid receptor and partially activates it. The end result is that you can go on with your life and not feel sick. You function better. Your thinking is more clear. Your cravings are significantly reduced. Therefore, buprenorphine can keep addicts off of deadly drugs and it can save lives.

Is buprenorphine only for heroin addicts?

No. Unfortunately, even the legal opioids can be deadly. An addict will tend to escalate the dosage. It is easy to lose track and take too much. Also, combination with other drugs makes opioids much more deadly. Alcohol, xanax, valium, ativan, klonipin and others are substances that greatly increase the dangers of opioids. Therefore, buprenorphine can also save the lives of addicts that only use prescription opioids.

Who do I talk to about buprenorphine if I am addicted to opioids or opiates?

Buprenorphine is available as several brand name medications. Subutex, Suboxone and Zubsolv are three of the major brands. Some doctors take a special course so they can prescribe these drugs to help opioid dependent patients. The program includes medication and therapy. This can include group and private therapy.

If you live in Fort Lauderdale,

Oakland Park, Wilton Manors, Pompano Beach, Broward County or South Florida, you can call Mark Leeds, D.O. Dr. Leeds is an Osteopathic Physician in Fort Lauderdale. Dr. Leeds has focused his practice on the treatment of opioid dependence and addiction with medication assisted treatment using Subutex, Suboxone and Zubsolv as well as other forms of treatment, including naltrexone or vivitrol.  So, please call Dr. Leeds at 954-776-6226 to make an appointment.

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