An opioid is a synthetic version of an opiate.  An opiate is any drug derived from the opium plant. Opioids were created to imitate opiates but they are chemically different.  Morphine is an example of an opioid.


Today, “opioid” is the umbrella term for both opioids and opiates whether they are synthetic, semi synthetic, or natural.


Opioids work by blocking pain and also creates intense feelings of pleasure when taken, driving the user to seek out the drug again and again.


Types of Opioids

Opiates – Morphine, dilaudid, and codeine are examples of opiates.

Street Opioids – Opioids are synthetic and may contain chemicals unknown to the user, which make opioids sold on the street such as heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil extra dangerous and risky to use.

Prescription Opioids – Common prescription opioids, used to treat moderate to severe pain, include: Codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), morphine, fentanyl.

Methadone – Methadone is a medicine used to help with opioid addiction, though some have started using it in place of their original addiction.

Fentanyl – Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and used in patients with advanced cancer pain or with a tolerance to other opioids.  It is the highest potency meant for human use.  Fentanyl is sold as Actiq®, Duragesic®, and Sublimaze®.

Carfentanil–  Carfentanil is the most potent opioid manufactured and is 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times stronger than fentanyl. It is used to sedate large animals such as elephants; because of its high potency it is not intended for human consumption. 

Course: Understanding Opioids
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