Difference between opiate and opioid

This time we will talk about the difference between opiate and opioid. These are two narcotic substances, which some people make a special point of distinguishing into two groups.

Others use these names interchangeably or prefer one over the other. Our vocabulary is changing; many people, particularly journalists and politicians, now refer to all these drugs as “opioids”.

It is therefore important to know the difference between opioids and opiates. We will go into more detail on this subject below, and we will also look at a comparison between cannabis and opioids.

What is the difference between an opiate and an opioid?

Opioids and opiates are commonly used in medicine. They are used to treat opiate/opioid use disorder, pain relief, anesthesia, cough suppression, and diarrhea suppression.

People with substance use disorders may also use opioids and opioids illegally. The main difference between an opioid and an opiate is in the manufacturing process.

On the one hand, opiates are chemical compounds that are extracted directly from plant matter. This can be anything from sap to poppy fibers. Some examples of opioids include:

  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Opium

In the case of opioids, although they are also chemicals, they are generally not formed from plant matter. In other words, most opioids are “lab-made” or “synthesized”.

While some opioid molecules, such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid) and oxycodone (Oxycontin), can be partially synthesized from chemical components of the poppy, most opioid molecules are created and manufactured in laboratories. The term “synthetic opioid” is very common because that is how almost all opioids are produced.

Suffice it to say that more than 500 different opioid compounds have been developed in the pharmaceutical sector. Some are commonly used in medicine, while others are not. The following are known opioids that are used medically in some countries:

  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Fentanyl
  • Meperidine
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Loperamide
opioids and opiates

Opioids and opiates

Both types of drugs are classified as “narcotics. The term“narcotic” simply refers to a substance that induces sleep or numbness. The word comes from the Medieval Latin narcoticus, from the Greek narkoun, meaning “to numb”.

Both naturally produced and synthesized narcotic drugs are more accurately referred to as “opiates and opioids”. However, people now often use the term “opioid” to refer to all of these medications.

If a person is dependent or addicted to a specific opioid or opioid substance, whether prescribed by a doctor or obtained illegally, switching to a new opioid or opioid may help them maintain their dependence or addiction.

Substituting one opiate or opioid for another, in other words, can help relieve withdrawal symptoms. We’ve probably heard stories about people in real pain who became addicted to prescription painkillers. These same people then turn to illegal opioids or heroin when they run out of prescription drugs.

Characteristics of opioids

Opioids are a type of opioid, which influence the body’s opioid receptors. If patients do not take opioids as prescribed by their doctor, they are at risk of overdose or addiction. If you suspect someone is overdosing on opioids or other opioids, you should call 911 immediately.

Opiates, such as heroin, can be synthetic or semi-synthetic. For pain relief, doctors may prescribe codeine or morphine. However, they do not prescribe illegal opiates such as opium or heroin, which people abuse for their euphoric properties.

opioid characteristics

Opioids and their characteristics

Opioids are a class of drugs with opium-like properties. Some are made from synthetic materials, while others are derived from the poppy plant.

They work by interacting with opioid receptors throughout the body, including the brain, spinal cord, and other organs. Opioids can “turn off” pain by blocking these receptors, which help modulate the emotions of pain and pleasure.

However, they can “dial up” the pleasure, which can lead to euphoria and confidence. Opioids can cause an overdose in some people. Some opioids have an effect on the brain’s serotonin systems. Serotonin is a hormone that regulates mood and promotes emotions of happiness and well-being.

On the other hand, opioid painkillers can cause serotonin syndrome, or too much serotonin in the body, as well as dependence. It is a dangerous disease that can cause:

  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Concern
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
cannabis vs opioids

Cannabis vs Opioids: Which is better for chronic pain?

We have already seen the difference between opiate and opioid, and we have also talked about their characteristics. We will now make a comparison between cannabis and opioids to determine whether cannabis can be used to treat, for example, chronic pain.

Prescription pain relievers, particularly opioids, are often given to adults with chronic pain. However, there are risks associated with these types of painkillers, such as the global opioid epidemic, which has claimed millions of lives.

It is estimated that 20% of adults suffer from chronic discomfort. Many people are turning to plant-based compounds such as cannabinoids to treat these ailments.

Cannabis contains cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are chemicals found in cannabis plants. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two of the most studied cannabinoids. There are a number of secondary cannabinoids and terpenes contained in the cannabis plant that have an effect on the body in addition to CBD and THC.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved two synthetic THC drugs, dronabinol and nabilone, in 1985. These are medicines for nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.

Meanwhile, Epidiolex, the first CBD drug, was approved in 2018 for two epilepsy disorders: Lennox Gastault syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Research is currently underway around the world looking at the use of cannabis products for chronic pain.

For example, Nabiximols, a drug with a CBD to THC ratio of 1:1, has shown potential in the treatment of chronic cancer pain. The drug is currently in clinical trials in the United States and is prescribed in many other countries.

CBD and other cannabinoids are used to treat a variety of ailments, including chronic pain. But because of the potential for harmful interactions, certain medications should not be taken with cannabis. Here are some examples:

  • Anticonvulsant medications such as Clozabam.
  • Anticoagulants such as Warfarin.
  • Pain relievers such as Tramadol.
  • Antidepressants such as Amitriptyline.
dangerous opioids

Opioids can be dangerous

Opioid medications, when taken as recommended by your doctor, are a safe way to control acute pain, such as the pain you might feel after surgery. However, when medications are administered incorrectly, there are dangers.

As mentioned above, opioids are a class of drugs that work by interacting with opioid receptors on cells to relieve pain. Opioids can be extracted from the poppy plant, like morphine, or produced in a laboratory, like fentanyl.

When opioid drugs pass through the bloodstream and bind to opioid receptors on brain cells, the cells send signals that reduce the perception of pain and increase pleasure.

However, the effectiveness of these drugs in relieving pain can potentially make them harmful. Opioids can make you sleepy in low doses, but in higher amounts, they can slow your heart rate and breathing rate, which could even kill you.

On the other hand, the pleasurable sensations you get from taking an opioid can make you want to keep experiencing them, which can lead to addiction.

cannabis opioid alternative

Is cannabis an alternative to opioids?

Cannabis can be a viable alternative to opioids in many cases. Cannabis has not yet been shown in studies to be effective in the treatment of acute pain. However, there may be benefits for people who experience chronic pain, particularly nerve and neuropathic pain.

The use of THC in the treatment of neuropathic pain has been shown in studies to be effective. This suggests that it could be used as a single cannabinoid. Even a small amount of THC can reduce chronic neuropathic pain, according to research.

Adults who had been addicted to opioids for chronic pain for a decade were studied in a
research published in 2020
. Half of the people were able to stop all opioids with cannabis. Some stopped their opioid addiction cold turkey. Patients have stated that they prefer cannabis to opioids for the following reasons:

  • Side effects are milder.
  • Withdrawal symptoms are less severe.
  • Cannabis is easier to access.
  • You get better results.

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