Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What is the Difference Between "Opioids" and "Opiates"?

Opiates are drugs derived from opium. Opioids used to refer to synthetic opiates (drugs created to emulate opium, however different chemically). Now the term Opioid is used for the entire family of opiates including natural, synthetic and semi-synthetic.

An opioid is any agent that activates opioid receptors (protein molecules located on the membranes of some nerve cells) found principally in the central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract. There are four broad classes of opioids:
  • Endogenous opioid, naturally produced in the body, endorphins
  • Opium alkaloids, such as morphine and codeine
  • Semi-synthetic opioids such as heroin oxycodone, and Buprenorphine
  • Fully synthetic opioids, such as methadone, that have structures unrelated to the opium alkaloids
Medical professionals use the word "opioid" to refer to the entire family of opioids, and the word "opiate" for a specific non-synthetic opioid, however, many only use "opioid". Consistent with the current definition, Inspirations for Youth and Families, aka Inspirations Teen Rehab’s website uses "opioid" to refer to all opioids and opiates.

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