As each year passes, the issue of addiction within the United States continues to grow at a rapid rate. A major contributor to this problem is that several substances are more potent, leading to a higher rate of addiction. Such substances that are connected to an increase in addiction include opioids and opiates. There are illegal types of both categories, with both being harmful when considering their connection to addiction. It is important to consider that these substances have a valid purpose in pain management but also hold a risk. When an individual starts to abuse the pain medication they have been prescribed or use the meds for a longer period of time, dependency or addition can be seen.

Understanding the Differences Between Opioids and Opiates

Opioids and opiates terminology are used in various circumstances, with both describing two different types of substances. It is important to learn the difference and clearly see how each can affect a patient, regarding dependency and/or addiction.

Ambien Abuse and AddictionOpiates

The term opiates is used when referring to a drug that has been derived from the opium poppy. Several medications are derived from this plant as well as within illicit substances. Common drugs created from opiates include Opium, Morphine, Codeine, and Heroin.


The term opioids is used to describe drugs that are synthesized, either entirely or just a portion. The drugs are created with a chemical synthesis process. Opioids will work in a similar manner to opiates. Examples of opioids include Demerol, Hydrocodone, and Duragesic.

Both opioids and opiates are used to affect a patient in the same way. The substances will not cure a condition or remove pain. It works by altering the perception of pain in the body, helping to relieve the feeling of pain. The drug will attach to the opioid receptors of the brain and causes signals to be altered. The person feels less pain in the process. Over the years, prescription rates for both medications have increased which had led to a higher rate of development for addicts.

Both drugs also create a sense of euphoria or well-being, which is considered a desired effect. This is the effect that people look for when abusing drugs. Both opioids and opiates are similar in how they provide such effects and they are abused because of it. An individual might take a larger dose to feel a certain way which can lead to overdose.

Addiction and Dependence

Opioids and opiates both have a risk of physical dependence by those who take the drugs on a regular, long-term basis. An individual can grow to rely on the drug and once trying to stop, or going a long period of time between doses, can experience withdrawal symptoms or cravings for the drug. Symptoms will vary among the individual but can include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular Heart Rate
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • And more

As an individual goes through a withdrawal, it can be quite difficult. It is best to be admitted within a treatment center to be able to safely remove the drug from your system. The detox process will allow the body to expel the substance and adjust to operating without the use of the drug. Some individuals try to get off an opioid or opiate cold turkey at home and this can be dangerous.

By entering a treatment facility, one can be monitored by professionals who can review any complications and make adjustments for the health and well-being of the patient. Weaning off the medication may be needed to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal.

Opioids and opiates can be addicting. When using the drugs as prescribed and for a short period of time, additional risk is minimalized. When using the drug for a longer period of time, a tolerance for the drug can develop. This leads to larger amounts used to achieve the effect needed. As higher doses are taken, the risk of dependence increases as well as the possibility of overdosing or becoming addicted.

Understanding the difference between addiction and dependence is important. With dependence on drugs, your body requires the physical effect the drug provides. Inaddition, the individual uses the drug despite any consequences or a negative impact the use may have on their life. An addict may also revert to strong drugs such as heroin to receive the desired effect.

Currently, the addiction epidemic continues to grow at a rapid rate. Thankfully, we can do something to change it. Across the nation, efforts are being made to address the issue in a better way, to help those who are affected by addiction. Concentration has shifted from a legal standpoint to treatment, in order to help those affected. Efforts are also being made to stop the number of unnecessary prescriptions that are being provided.