There are two major types of opioids: synthetic and natural. It isn’t always necessary to distinguish between the two. Most are just referred to as opioids to the medical community, and narcotics to the law enforcement community. However, there are differences between the two, and synthetic opioids can potentially be far more powerful. Thus, it’s vital to know the differing effects of synthetic vs natural opioids. If you are experiencing an issue with opioid addiction, it may be worth it for you to find out more about the differences between the two.
The Origins of Synthetic vs Natural Opioids
Also called opiates, natural opioids derive from the opium plant, also known as the poppy. Natural opioids include codeine, morphine, and heroin. Opiates are extremely addictive. Many opiates, such as morphine and codeine, offer pain relief. Thus opening the door to addiction to prescription medications. Also, they may continue taking prescription medications long after they no longer need them.
What is a synthetic opioid? Manufactured in a laboratory, synthetic opioids or semi-synthetic opioids give similar effects as opiates. These have the same mechanisms within the body as opiate medications. However, they just haven’t been derived via poppies, but created synthetically. Semi-synthetic opiates include hydrocodone and oxycodone, while fully synthetic opiates include methadone and fentanyl.
Today, you can find the terms opioids and opiates often used interchangeably, but there is a distinction, especially in medical communities.
The Difference Between Synthetic vs Natural Opioids
So, what is the difference between synthetic vs natural opioids? It’s mostly to do with their origins, and what they have been designed for.
Synthetic opioids can be far stronger than natural opiates. This is because of their design. Thus, for example, why only a fraction of fentanyl produces the effects of morphine or heroin. This makes them more useful for things like medical applications, but more dangerous during substance abuse.
However, synthetic opioids aren’t necessarily stronger than natural opiates but simply made for different reasons. For example, Methadone doesn’t produce the highs and euphoria of heroin. Also, it lacks the harsh withdrawal symptoms of heroin. Consequently, people who are trying to get off heroin use it.
This also means that you cannot assume synthetic opioids are more addictive than natural opioids, nor vice versa. Regardless of type, if someone is addicted to an opioid, they may want to connect with a drug addiction treatment center.
Synthetic vs Natural Opioids as Narcotics
Law enforcement considers both synthetic opioids and natural opiates to be narcotics. Without a valid prescription, it is illegal for you to possess these controlled substances. Because of this, neither is more or less illegal than the other.
In fact, many substance abusers begin with legal prescriptions for either natural or synthetic opioids. This is one reason why people should be cautious about ever using narcotics, even if prescribed them. And even if a drug is a prescription drug, such as codeine, it is still illegal to have it without a prescription.
Recovery From Addiction
Because synthetic, semi-synthetic, and natural opioids all operate on the same mechanisms of the brain, they have similar withdrawal symptoms and similar recovery patterns. Recovery depends on how much of the substance is being used. In addition, the length of use effects recovery. Particular substances, such as heroin, tend to be more addictive than other substances, such as methadone.
It’s easier to recover from opioids, whether synthetic or not, with the help of a professional drug abuse program. A professional drug treatment center can help with an inpatient opioid addiction center or an outpatient drug addiction program and may be able to assist with treatment with a variety of therapies.