Opiates vs. Opioids: What’s the Difference?
If you haven’t heard about the problems that opioids have caused over the past decade, you must be
living under a rock! Did you know that many of the people dying from opioids aren’t recreational drug
users looking for the next high? In fact, they are people who were prescribed these drugs by their doctors
for the treatment of chronic pain.
Why it Matters:
To understand how this epidemic started, it’s essential to understand the differences between opioids and
Opiates are drugs derived from the flowering opium poppy plant. Morphine is an example of an opiate.
These drugs have been linked to physical dependency, high tolerance, and addiction.
Opioids on the other hand are synthetic (or made in a lab). When opioid receptors in the brain become
activated, they produce feelings of pleasure and pain. All opioid drugs act on these receptors. Some are
up to 50 times more powerful than heroin, some of the most commonly prescribed being oxycodone and
Oxycodone exhibits the highest risk of abuse and poses the most significant dangers. It affects the
nervous system in the same way as heroin, underscoring how highly addictive and dangerous these
*Opioids can have a negative impact on your emotions, breathing, digestion, and movement.
*Fentanyl, a pain reliving opioid, is 100 times more potent than the opiate morphine.
*Opioids are highly addictive and not meant to be used for chronic pain.
Next week, we’ll be highlighting how you can go “beyond the pill,” and we’ll discuss a variety of non-pharmacological options that are very effective at treating pain.