If you or someone you know is struggling with opiate addiction, it’s essential to understand the different treatment options available. PHP treatment and outpatient programs can help individuals on their way to recovery and maintain their sobriety. 

What’s the Difference Between Opiates and Opioids?

Do you know the difference between an opiate and an opioid? 

It’s important to know the difference between opiates and opioids because they are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Opiates are a type of opioid that comes from the opium poppy, or naturally derived opioids. 

  • Heroin
  • Opium
  • Morphine
  • Codeine

On the other hand, opioids include these drugs and the synthetic and partially-synthesized painkillers. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids are a class of drugs that include: 

  • Synthetic opioids
  • Fentanyl
  • Pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and others. 

Today, opiates are commonly referred to as opioids, and the terms are used to talk about both substances together. 

Statistics on Opioid Abuse and Addiction

Opioid addiction is a severe problem in the United States. In 2018, almost 2 million people in the United States were suffering from substance use disorders related to prescription opioids. 

While prescription opioids are responsible for most opioid overdoses, heroin overdoses have quadrupled since 2010.

How Does Opiate Addiction Start?

Opiate addiction can start in one of two ways: prescription medication or illegal drug use. Opiates are typically only prescribed for a short time due to the risk of addiction. However, some people may become addicted after a few days of use.

People who become addicted to prescription opioids usually start taking them for legitimate pain relief. However, over time, they may take more than prescribed or more often than prescribed to achieve the desired effects. This can lead to tolerance, which means higher doses are needed to achieve the same effect. Tolerance can quickly lead to dependence and, eventually, addiction.

People who become addicted to illegal opioids like heroin usually start using them recreationally. They may be curious about the drug, or peer pressure may play a role. Whatever the reason, recreational use can quickly turn into tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Opiate Addiction

If you’re concerned that someone you know may be addicted to opioids, there are some behavioral signs you can look for: 

  • Taking higher doses or more frequently than prescribed 
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities 
  • Isolation from family and friends 
  • Financial problems 
  • Changes in appearance 

There are also some common physical signs of opiate abuse, including: 

  • Disrupted sleeping patterns
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Slurred speech
  • Slow reflexes
  • Constricted pupils

These are a few of the signs that someone may be struggling with opiate addiction. If you’re concerned about someone’s well-being, it’s essential to reach out and get help. 

There is no shame in admitting that you need help, and there is no shame in seeking treatment for addiction. 

Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms are one surefire way to determine if someone has an opiate use disorder. When someone develops a physical dependence on opiates and stops taking them, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. 

Symptoms of withdrawal from opiates can be both uncomfortable and dangerous and can include the following:

  • Muscle aches 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Fever 
  • Sweating 

Withdrawal symptoms typically peak within three days and last up to a week. However, some people may experience symptoms for more extended periods. 

If you’re considering quitting opioids cold turkey, it’s essential to speak with a medical professional first, as they can help ensure you’re safe and comfortable during withdrawal.

Treatment Options for Opiate Addiction

There are many treatment options available for persons struggling with opioid addiction. Some common treatments include: 

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)  

MAT involves the use of medications like methadone or buprenorphine to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms while also providing behavioral counseling and therapy.  MAT has been shown to be an effective treatment option for opioid addiction as it helps people stay in treatment long enough to make lasting changes.   

Behavioral health therapy   

Behavioral health therapy provides people struggling with addiction with the tools they need to change their behaviors and thought patterns associated with substance abuse disorder. Therapy can be done individually or in groups, depending on what works best for each person.  

Outpatient treatment   

Outpatient treatment allows people to live at home while receiving treatment during the day at a clinic or hospital setting. This type of treatment is often recommended for those who have completed a more intensive level of care, such as detoxification or inpatient treatment but still need structure and support during early recovery.  

Intensive outpatient program (IOP) 

An IOP is similar to outpatient treatment but typically requires attending counseling sessions 3-5 days per week for several hours each day. This type of care is often recommended for those who need more support than outpatient treatment alone can provide but do not need 24/7 supervision.

Finding Opiate Addiction Treatment That Works 

If you think someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to opiates or opioids, don’t wait to get help. The sooner they receive treatment, the better their chances for recovery. Many different types of treatment are available depending on the severity of the addiction. 

Contact our drug and alcohol addiction treatment helpline for further information. 


Oregon.gov: Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission – Opiates or Opioids — What’s the difference?

National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus – Opiate and opioid withdrawal 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – Key Substance Use and

Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health