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Is Heroin An Opiate?

Q) Is Heroin An Opiate?

Many people consider Heroin to be an Opiate and you may be suprised by the answer which you can find below.


A) Yes, Heroin is an opiate. 

But do you know the difference between opiates and opiods?

No one wants to suffer. No one willingly seeks out pain and distress. In fact, most people actively search for ways to avoid pain and distress!


Did you know the most common reason people visit doctors is to seek relief from pain? While the vast majority of the time this involves aspirin, ibuprofen or some other OTC pain reliever, it can sometimes require stronger pain medication.

Enter prescription pain pills. While they’re lifesavers for some, they’re nothing short of incredibly dangerous for others. When used for prolonged periods of time or using not as prescribed, pain medications are downright addictive!

These pain pills have a million names, the most common of which are opiates or opioids…but what’s the difference?

We’re here to shed some light on this controversial and often misunderstood topic.


The Difference Between Opiates and Opioids, is Heroin an Opiate or Opioid?

Opiates are synthesized from naturally occurring alkaloids in the opium poppy. This includes a wide range of drugs, all of which are known for their pain relief and euphoria-producing capabilities.

Types of Opiates Include:

  • Morphine (Kadin, MS Contin)- Used to treat moderate to severe pain, morphine is the grandfather of all other opiates. Short-acting versions are taken as needed and used for acute pain. Extended-release versions are used for the treatment of chronic pain. Morphine is usually used after invasive surgery.
  • Codeine (Tylenol 3s)- A narcotic pain reliever and cough suppressant, codeine is a sleep-inducing and analgesic chemical derived from morphine. In addition to reducing pain, codeine causes sedation, drowsiness, and depresses breathing.
  • Heroin- Is heroin an opiate? Heroin is used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects, which are about twice as strong as morphine. It’s used significantly less often as a cough suppressant and antidiarrheal, though these uses do occur.
  • Opium – Opium is sap derived from the poppy seed. It’s the oldest opiate around and predates even morphine. It’s used medically as an analgesic.

Is Codeine An Opiate?

Click here to find out whether codeine is an opiate and to learn more about opiates and opiods.


Opioids, on the other hand, are synthetically or laboratory-created from naturally occurring alkaloids in the opium poppy. Although man-made, opioids act like opiates when taken for pain due to their molecular similarities.

Types of Opioids Include:

  • Methadone- A pain relieving drug which has a much longer half-life than morphine. Methadone is commonly used for medication-assisted therapy and in “maintenance programs.”
  • Oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin)- This chemical is derived from thebaine. It has about double the strength as morphine, which puts it in the same ballpark as heroin. OxyContin is the brand name version of oxycodone that kicked off our current opioid epidemic.
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab)- This drug is derived from codeine and is about half as strong as oxycodone. This is one of the only opioids that can’t be administered intravenously.
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)- Between eight and ten times stronger than heroin, hydromorphone crosses the blood-brain barrier faster than any other opioid. This accounts for the strong “rush” associated with IV use.
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic)- This is fifty times as potent as heroin and 100 times as potent as morphine. Used commonly during surgery as anesthesia, fentanyl has recently been used to cut heroin throughout the country leading to many overdoses.
prescription pills

Opioid and Opiate Addiction

There are a number of opioid receptors in the brain. The three responsible for the majority of these drug’s euphoria effects are the Mu, Delta, and Kappa. All opiates and opioid drugs target these receptors. They don’t discriminate.

When used as prescribed to treat pain, opiates and opioids are less likely to become addictive. That doesn’t mean abuse and addiction don’t occur, but rather that they’re much more rare. But in the cases of harder opiates such as heroin, addictions arise which leaves many asking the question is heroin an opiate? This is a difference between opiates and opiods

Still, when these opioid receptors are being routinely flooded with feel-good chemicals, tolerance builds and prescription drug abuse begins.

Patients prescribed pain medication like Vicodin or Codeine may start to think these drugs can relieve 100% of their pain. Then, when patients take them in higher and higher doses to get higher levels of pain relief, they can often find themselves addicted.

Sometimes, the desired effects aren’t felt by taking a pill at all. Sometimes your prescription runs out. Sometimes it simply becomes too expensive to buy these pills legally or on the black market. When this occurs, people turn to the street version of opioids and opiates.

Enter drugs like heroin and illicitly produced fentanyl.

Withdrawal and Detox

If someone stops or decreases the amount of opioids they’re taking, they’ll experience physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal. Prolonged use of opiate drugs will change the way nerve receptors in your brain function. Withdrawal symptoms are the body’s response to the absence of the drug and some people have even died from Heroin Withdrawal.

Withdrawal from both opiates and opioids is the same. The only real difference is the length of withdrawal. Detoxing from heroinis longer than detoxing from Dilaudid. Detoxing from Methadone is longer than any other opiate or opioid at all.

Specific withdrawal symptoms depend upon the level of withdrawal a person is experiencing. Many factors influence withdrawal, which is why everyone’s withdrawal is unique. However, there are some common symptoms.
This includes:

Muscle stiffness and tightness

  • Feelings of restlessness and anxiety �
  • Eyes watering and nose running
  • Sweating
  • Lack of ability to sleep
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Tachycardia
  • Hypertension
  • Dehydration

Due to the severity of these symptoms, many stay in active addiction to avoid the discomfort associated with stopping. This is one reason why a medically monitored detox is so important.


Where You Can Get Help


Opiate and opioid addiction are extremely serious and life threatening. The sooner you or your loved on gets help, the better. Sober Services will help you detox safely and in comfort. The road to recovery is long, yet rewarding. After you detox it’s important to go to drug treatment to recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.


Opiate and opioid addictions are scary. We have answered tough questions such as 'is heroin an opiate?' if you are asking yourself this you probably have an addiction or know someone who has. Let us help you find help. Call now (877) 212-5798� or visit our website at and one of our trained representatives will help you take the next step towards the rest of your life.


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