Opiates are one of the most addictive substances available, and oftentimes, people fall into this form of addiction due to a legal prescription.
Before we jump into the effects and treatment options of opiates, let’s just first get a better understanding of what opiates actually are and how they are different from opioids.
What are Opiates?
Medical science has always aimed to relieve suffering, and this is why people seek medical treatment from a doctor. Over-the-counter pain relievers are limited in what they can do and when they fall short, patients seek relief by visiting a doctor for something more powerful. Opiates and opioids are often prescribed but when they’re not used according to the doctor’s instructions, or
Although subtle, there are distinct differences between opioids and opiates. An opiate is a drug that is naturally derived from a flowering opium poppy plant. Some examples of opiates include morphine, heroin and codeine. So what is an opioid drug? The term opioid is a broader description to include opiates and generally refers to any substance that binds to the brain’s opioid receptors, whether natural or synthetic. The brain’s opioid receptors are the parts of the brain responsible for controlling pain, reward, and addictive behaviors. Examples of synthetic opioid drugs include the prescription painkillers hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin), as well as fentanyl and methadone. Here’s another way to think of it: while all opiates are opioids, not all opioids are opiates. Additionally, just because opiates are natural does not mean they are less harmful. Just like opioids, opiates are highly addictive and frequently misused.
Opiates vs Opioids
Opiates are alkaloids derived from the opium poppy. Opium has shown itself to be a strong pain-relieving medication, and a number of drugs are derived from this flowering poppy. Opiate Types:
Opioids are synthetic, or partially synthetic, drugs that are engineered to work similarly to the way opiates perform. Their active ingredients are made using chemical synthesis. Opioids act like opiates when taken for pain because they have similar molecular structures. Opioid Types
- Percocet, Percodan, OxyContin (oxycodone)
- Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab (hydrocodone)
- Demerol (pethidine)
- Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
- Duragesic (fentanyl)
How Do Opiates And Opioids Work?
Both of these drugs alter the way that pain signals are perceived and processed as opposed to making the pain go away. They attach themselves to the molecules that protrude from certain nerve cells in the brain. These centers are referred to as “opioid receptors.” Once attached, the nerve cells send different messages to the brain that are not accurate measures of the real pain that the body is experiencing. The result is that the person who is taking the drug is not feeling the true pain and drugs in this family are among the most commonly abused medications. Where things get complicated is when you begin to understand that this class of drugs also affects how the brain feels pleasure. People taking these drugs who are not suffering from pain will experience a feeling of elation, followed by deep relaxation and/or sleepiness. This triggers reward centers in the brain and the euphoria becomes an addiction very rapidly. Addiction is one of the unpleasant long-term effects of opiates.
Battling Addiction To Opiates or Opioids
Use as directed, patients using these medications are less likely to become addicted. Drug addiction occurs when patients start to develop a tolerance for the medication. They quickly increase their own dosage or frequency and before long, they’re addicted. Some of this addiction stems from patients that don’t have the same expectations for relief as their physicians do. Patients sometimes think that the term “painkillers” means total suppression of the pain. In reality, their doctor is thinking in terms of pain management, which essentially means reducing the pain to a level where the patient can function at a reasonable level. When these expectations between the physician and patient aren’t aligned, patients sometimes take more of the pain medication than prescribed to get a higher level of relief. This is a big problem and one of the primary causes of addiction.
Unfortunately, for those who have been using opiates heavily for weeks or longer, they will be subject to a number of symptoms during the withdrawal period. Some of the most common symptoms associated with early withdrawal include:
- Muscle aches
- runny nose
As the problem progresses, the problems and symptoms will become worse, some of the symptoms associated with late withdrawal include:
- abdominal cramping
- general pain
Opiate Addiction Treatment at The District Recovery
We offer safe and comfortable outpatient treatment and IOP treatment for prescription drug addiction. Understanding drug abuse and addiction is our business and we offer a variety of residential treatment programs to help you battle the cycle of addiction. If the long-term effects of opiates are affecting your life, contact us below for more information.
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