Opiates vs Opioids

The original definition of the term opiate identified as a substance derived from opium. Opiates are considered natural, due to their natural sources and active ingredients found in poppies. Generally, known opiates include opium, morphine, and codeine. When scientists started creating substances that imitate opiates, that are synthetic or partly synthetic, they called them Opioids. Active ingredients in opioids are the chemicals produced in the lab.

Both Opiates and Opioids belong to a group of narcotic analgesics. Opiate drugs include heroin, fentanyl, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and methadone.  Opiates are normally prescribed as pain relievers.

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Some people misuse opiates and opioids for recreational purposes, in order to get euphoric effects. These drugs may cause physical dependence, which means that the person can no longer function without using drugs, and may need to use more drugs to get desired effects. This condition referred to as tolerance. Each person may experience different effects of opiates they use, and they are called withdrawal symptoms.

Opiates and Addiction

Prolong use of opiates may lead to addiction. Addiction to opiates associated with compulsive drug seeking and use, inability to stop using drugs despite harmful health effects, neglecting personal and daily responsibilities. Addiction disorder is a chronic disease that causes permanent changes in a person’s brain function. Opiates bind to opiate receptors and activate the cells located in specific areas of the brain, spinal cord, and other body organs located in a reward system responsible for feelings, pleasure, and pain.

While opiates adhere to the receptors, they block pain signals and release a substantial amount of dopamine into the system. This release can drive a person to continue using drugs nonstop.

Opiates Withdrawal symptoms

Opiates, similar to opioids and other drugs, may cause mild to severe withdrawal symptoms when the person stops using drugs abruptly. These symptoms may occur within a few hours. The level of symptoms depends on the following factors:

  • type of opiates taken
  • the amount, a length of time and frequency of opiates used
  • use of other drugs in combination with opiates
  • presence of other physical and psychological conditions

Commonly known withdrawal symptoms are:

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  • insomnia
  • vomiting and diarrhea
  • muscle and bone pains
  • anxiety
  • rapid heart rate
  • tremors
  • stomach cramps
  • depression

These symptoms can be really uncomfortable and unbearable for most people, and make it impossible for them to quit using drugs on their own. Therefore a struggling addict may require medical intervention.

Opiates Detox and Treatment

The treatment for opiate addiction starts with a medical examination by a recovery specialist. Blood and urine tests, chest X-rays, toxin screening, may be completed to determine the course of action.

The first phase of the treatment includes undergoing a medical detoxification program, supervised by medical professionals and performed in the medical setting. Medical detoxification for opiate addiction is monitored by medical personnel around the clock, and vital signs checked to ensure a safe and stable environment. Addiction medications may be used to help patients to reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine and methadone work by binding to the opiate receptors to reverse to a normal brain function, reduce cravings and curb withdrawal symptoms.

The next and very important step is behavioral therapy, that helps recovering addict to change their addictive behaviors and attitude towards drug use. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps to learn techniques to cope with life’s stress situations, to adopt healthy life skills, and learn to manage triggers and prevent relapse.  Individual and group counseling helps to learn from other peers how to change their behavior. Family support is critical during the recovery journey to ensure effective, long-lasting results and drug-free life.