“Opiates” and “Opioids.” What’s The Difference?
The name “opioids” belongs to a group of drugs whose name is derived from protein receptors in the human body (1). These opioid receptors may be located in the brain itself, but also in the spine and even the gut. Your body produces opioids to help you control stress, regulate your appetite, and stabilize your mood (2). You may hear the terms “opioid” and “opiate” used to mean the same thing. But there is a difference. The best way to remember the difference is that opiates are a kind of opioid. Opiates are natural substances derived from the opium plant. But the term “opioid” refers to all kinds – natural and synthetic. Natural opiates include codeine, morphine, and heroin. Synthetic opioids are things like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl. When prescribed by a doctor, opioids are used to treat pain. Prescription opioids are typically consumed by swallowing. Recreational consumption may involve crushing pills, opening capsules, injecting liquid, or snorting powder.
Symptoms Of Opioid Misuse
Because opioids have a tendency to relax the body, they often impair its natural processes. Some symptoms of opioid misuse are drowsiness, constipation, slowed breathing, and confusion. Breathing too slowly can result in a condition called “hypoxia,” which means that the brain is getting an inadequate supply of oxygen. Without proper medical attention, a hypoxic person can fall into a coma or even die. Pregnant women addicted to opioids can bear children who inherit the addiction. In 2018, nearly 70% of all overdose deaths involved an opioid (3). Of the opioid-related deaths, nearly ⅔ were related to synthetic opioids (4). Fortunately, Naloxone has shown promise in preventing overdose deaths. Between 1996 and 2014, Naloxone administrations saved over 26,000 lives (5).
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) For Opioids
In 2018, around 2 million people in the United States were struggling with opioid use disorder (7). But therapy alone isn’t enough. The best recovery option for those struggling with opioids is a holistic approach called medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Medication-assisted treatment for opioids is available. As an alternative to partial hospitalization (PHP) or intensive outpatient (IOP), MAT uses a prescription medication combined with therapy sessions (often cognitive behavioral therapy). Contrasted with more regimented treatment options, MAT leaves a person’s schedule open. This way, people seeking treatment can get it without having to sacrifice their other responsibilities and obligations. Methadone has been used in MAT for decades, with much success. Newer research studies indicate that medications like buprenorphine, naloxone, and naltrexone show promise in combating opioid addiction (6). Medications like these help stabilize the body and mind. They help restore a person’s sense of life balance. With added stability, a person can more effectively participate in their therapy sessions. This two-pronged approach gives the recovering user powerful allies. MAT helps people stay alive, keeps them committed to long-term treatment, and helps them find and maintain employment. Additionally, pregnant women in MAT can overcome addiction, giving birth to healthy babies (8).
Recovery from opioid addiction is possible. There is hope, and treatment is available. If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, or if you’d like more information about MAT, call Harmony Oaks Recovery Center now at 423-708-4961.