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How Do Opiates Differ from Opium?

How Do Opiates Differ from Opium?

Opiates are generally more potent than opium and relatively less expensive

Opium has been abused for centuries with its use dating back to ancient China thousands of years ago. Since the discovery of opium, people have been processing the alkaloid morphine to create other synthetic drugs such as hydrocodone and heroin, which are also abused. Synthetic opiates such as heroin can be even more addictive than opium, but whether you use opium or a more powerful synthetic opioid, you are still at high risk for addiction and other problems associated with opiate abuse. There are a number of differences between opiates and opium, but any psychoactive substance derived from the poppy seed is still dangerous and addictive.

Opium vs Opiates

Opium is a latex that is produced by an opium poppy that contains a small percentage of morphine, which can either be made into a tea and drank or smoked. Drinking opium tea can put users at an increased risk of overdose because there is no way to tell how potent each batch of poppies are. Smoking opium is often considered safer, but there is still a risk of overdose.

Opiate is an umbrella term often used interchangeably with opioids that may include other substances derived from opium poppies such as hydrocodone, OxyContin, codeine and heroin. Opiates are generally more potent than opium and relatively less expensive making it more affordable for a user to develop an abuse habit. Pills such as hydrocodone or oxycodone are often taken orally while heroin may be smoked, snorted or injected depending on the type you use. Because opiates are more potent, their overdose risk is higher, and the onset of addiction may occur more rapidly than it would if you used opium.

Why Do People Use Opiates?

Opium has been around as long as most other drugs, but opiate addiction is more common than an addiction to opium. Depending on where you live, opiates are much easier to find on the street than opium, and this impacts abuse statistics. Opiates are easier to find because they are widely prescribed in the United States and because they are more available they are also cheaper. You may start out using opium or a weaker opioid such as hydrocodone, but once you develop a tolerance and need more to get high, it becomes more affordable to switch to a powerful opioid such as OxyContin or heroin. Heroin may seem cheaper at first, but once your tolerance increases, a large portion of your money will go to fuel your habit. While you may switch to powerful opiates at first because you can use more for less money, in the end you will become hooked, and the cost of your opiate habit will increase quickly.

Developing an Addiction

Whether you abuse opium or opiates, if you continue your abuse, it will develop into an addiction that requires professional treatment so you can get it under control. Addiction starts with a period of abuse where you feel little to no negative effect in your daily life. You may smoke opium occasionally while hanging out with friends, but after a while your use increases to every weekend just to chill out. During this time, you start using opium or an opiate more often and may not recognize tolerance building. After you develop a tolerance, you will begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, sweating, nausea, anxiety and tremors when you go too long without a dose. Withdrawal symptoms mean you are dependent on a drug, and if you are unable to stop despite negative consequences from your abuse, then you are addicted. Every addiction is different and requires professional treatment in order to understand how you became addicted and learn to manage your addiction. Opium is less potent than other opiates, but the withdrawal symptoms and addiction can be equally as strong.

Fighting Addiction

If you are stuck in the middle of an addiction to opium or opiates, you can still turn things around. No one can handle a powerful addiction alone, but with help of loved ones and professional addiction treatment, you can learn to manage addiction without resorting to substance abuse. Instead of struggling to stay clean without seeking treatment, speak with your family about your abuse problem, and ask for help. Your loved ones can be a great source of encouragement and support during your recovery.

To find out more about addiction treatment, call our toll-free helpline today. Our trained addiction experts are here for you 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have regarding opiate addiction and want to help you find an effective treatment center that can help you stay sober. Many users have tried quitting on their own and failed, but professional treatment gives you access to resources such as therapy, support groups and aftercare treatment that you cannot find elsewhere. Call now to learn more about the benefits of rehab and to find out if your health insurance will help pay for your treatment.