01 Dec Opioid vs. Opiate
The terms opioid and opiate are often used interchangeably, and at Integrated Pain Consultants we’re committed to ensuring patients know the difference. There is a big difference between the two, and that’s important to know given the current epidemic in the U.S. As more patients are looking for pain management thanks to injuries (sometimes chronic), living longer, diseases and more, sometimes over the counter medications don’t provide sufficient relief. A doctor might prescribe a stronger medication, but in some cases, prolonged use can lead to addiction. Let’s take a look at the differences in these terms.
Opiates vs Opioids
Opiates are naturally sourced. They come from the opium poppy and are an alkaloid. Opium is a strong pain reliever and a key ingredient in codeine, morphine—and even heroin.
Opioids are a synthetic or partially synthetic drug created to simulated how opiates work. They share very similar molecules. Opioids include oxycodone, hydrocodone (like Vicodin), methadone, and a number of other prescription drugs.
How Do Opiates and Opioids Work?
Both opiates and opioids change how the brain perceives pain. The drugs don’t make the pain go away. Instead, the message in the body about pain is dulled. They also change how the brain perceives pleasure, inducing elation and fatigue.
Both opiates and opioids should only be prescribed in rare situations where severe pain is expected in the short-term. Otherwise, more extended use can lead to dependence and tolerance. To avoid the risk of addiction, it’s always best to be conservative with pain management and understand the difference between “pain relief/management” and “painkillers.”
These drugs don’t have to be taken very long for addiction to set in. That’s why they should only be used for very short-term pain management, such as recovering from an invasive surgery. Adopting a holistic approach to pain management that can include a variety of alternative therapies such as massage therapy, acupuncture, physical therapy and natural, less addictive drugs is a safer approach to addressing pain.
It’s human nature to seek out immediate and fast pain relief. Nobody wants to be in pain or uncomfortable. However, the term “painkiller” has led many people to believe that it’s feasible, normal, and natural to have zero pain even after a major injury. Instead, pain management should be the approach. If you’re looking for a safe, effective way to manage your pain, contact Integrated Pain Consultants today and schedule your appointment. We also invite you to learn more about Dr. Nikesh Seth and other providers including Dr. Anne-Marie Cosijns, Dr. Lisa Sparks, Dr. Michael Givens, and our team of Nurse Practitioners.