Difference between Opioids and Opiates

The terms opiates and opioids are sometimes used interchangeably on rehab sites; however, these are different substances. A person often associates opiates with opium or the poppy flower which it comes from. Opiods, on the other hand are less often mentioned in conversations, but is still related to the former opiate.

Difference between Opioids and Opiates

The terms opiates and opioids are sometimes used interchangeably on rehab sites; however, these are different substances. A person often associates opiates with opium or the poppy flower which it comes from. Opiods, on the other hand are less often mentioned in conversations, but is still related to the former opiate.

In medical jargon, opioid is any substance that binds to the body’s opioid receptors. In this respect, the terms can be interchanged. In other words, not all opioids are opiates, but all opiates are opiods. There is a difference in the effects which opiates and opioids have on the body. It is this reason why it is important to know the difference between the two of them.

Therapists at Siam Rehab often get asked “did my alcohol or drug use cause my depression?” With honesty, we will likely reply “maybe”, or “it depends”. This is when it will take several dedicated therapy sessions to find the source of the depression and addiction. From here, well trained staff will be able to make a determination on which came first.

Opioids and Opiates

Both opiates and opioids stem from naturally occurring compounds found in the poppy plant. This plant produces a beautiful flower which leaves a pod containing opium after it’s shriveled and died. Opium has been used for thousands of years for a number of different reasons; more recently the opioids and opiates have been used to relieve pain. This powerful property originates in specific alkaloids or compounds naturally in the plant itself.

Opiates are anything directly derived from opium. These include heroin, morphine, codeine and opium. Some people, including addicts, prefer opiates to opioids because they are considered to be natural.

Opioids are pain reliving medications which are synthetic or semi-synthetic. This means the active molecules have been manufactured in a lab and are considered chemically man-made. Due to the molecular make up, opioids act just like opiates in the human body. Name brand examples of opioids prescribed by a doctor, but heavily abused include Demerol, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, Methadone, Percodan and Percocet.

The most notable physical differences in each of the opiates and opioids are the strengths of the drugs. Codeine would be the least potent, after which Percocet, morphine, Oxycodone and Fentanyl would follow (not all listed). It’s important to note that when a person takes more than the recommended dosage, the strength and effects of the drug becomes intensified. This is when overdoses and/or death can occur.

Only recently has the ability to travel abroad for an addiction become possible. For many addicts and their families this has been life saving. Now more than ever, the options of getting help for an addiction are vaster than ever. Low cost flights, easy access to international countries like Thailand and free or affordable visas means foreign rehabs are something everyone should consider.

Agonists versus Antagonists

Apart from the initial strength of the opiate or opioid, another difference between the two is how they interact with cell receptor sites in the brain. For example, heroin or codeine activates receptors which stimulate endorphin secretions. There appears to be a connection between this natural increase in secretion and abuse in that these are more heavily abused around the world. Oxycodone and hydrocodone, although a synthetic opioid, also activate the same receptors in the brain and have an extremely high rate of addiction. Medications, opium and heroin’s ability to turn on these receptors are called agonists.

Antagonists are drugs that block cell receptor sites in the brain. These are often used in rehab treatment programs and opiate detoxification for their ability to aid in the withdrawal process. Naloxone and Naltrexone block these areas and keep other opiates and opioids from accessing and turning on the brains’ receptors. These drugs may also be used in an emergency when a person is overdosing on the substances listed above.

There are two primary types of depression: endogenous depression and situational depression. Endogenous depression occurs when there is a biological or genetic connection to the disorder. Typically, close relatives will also suffer from depression and episodes can intensify with stress or anxiety. Most people with endogenous depression will suffer episodes throughout their life and will require long term treatment and medication. Often, this depression causes addiction rather than vice versa.

Situational depression, also known as readjustment disorder, occurs when a person is unable to healthily cope with specific stressors, environmental factors or major life events. Situational depression often occurs after the loss of a loved one, job woes, financial issues, divorce/breakups or reoccurring stress. Addiction to drugs or alcohol can be a result of this depression or alternatively, lead to depression.
Signs of Depression

  • Feeling down or low for most of the day, nearly every day
  • Losing pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Feeling tired even after a restful night
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or insecurity
  • Inability to concentrate or think straight
  • Difficulty speaking or moving
  • In extreme cases, thoughts of self harm or suicide

Our rehab in Thailand values the recovery of each and every person and so we have a 1 to 1 staff to patient ratio to ensure every person receives adequate care and support.

Is one more dangerous than the other?

Opiates and opioids can be extremely dangerous. It is not uncommon for a person, as well as, their loved one to believe that some are safer than others especially when they are naturally derived from the poppy plant. Realistically, there is no solid evidence to say that some are more harmful. Inherent risks come with any of these substances; for the most part opiates and opioids carry the same side effects when used. That said, when any of these drugs are abused, some can become more dangerous. This is particularly because of their strength, or in the case of heroin, what other chemicals could be mixed in.

When a person has depression and has sought out treatment for the addiction only, there is a greater concern for relapsing. This is especially true when the triggers are directly related to the depression. In short, depression and addiction is dangerous and yet very common. The good news is that both disorders can be effectively treated at the same time.
In Thailand, rehab centers such as Serenity Koh Samui will be able to modify a drug and alcohol treatment program whenever necessary as long as it does not conflict or interfere with other guests of the program.

Going to a Thailand Rehab for Opiate and Opioid Addictions

Whether you or a loved one is abusing opiates or opioids, an addiction treatment program should be sought. This is because the withdrawal of any opiate or opiod can be intense and extremely uncomfortable. It’s not uncommon for an addict to be so scared of these symptoms that they avoid treatment all together. Rest assured a monitored detox at a Thailand rehab will help to decrease withdrawal symptoms and make the overall process bearable. Once a detox is complete, treatment can begin.

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