Menu Close


Community. Purpose. Technology.

Opiate vs. Opioid: Differences and Similarities

woman sits and leans her head on her arms while looking out a window wondering the differences between opiate vs opioid

Comprehending the distinction between opiates vs. opioids is foundational to understanding the complexities of addiction. At MD M.A.T.T., we offer opioid addiction treatment in Frederick, Maryland, rooted in compassion, harnessing the power of community and leading-edge modalities to support every step of your recovery.

Our team recognizes the bravery it takes to seek help and is devoted to crafting a supportive, inclusive environment where healing begins and thrives. Call us today at 410.816.9457 to get more information about opioid addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one.

Opioid vs. Opiate: Definition

Recognizing what is an opioid vs. opiate is crucial in identifying and treating addiction. Both terms refer to a class of substances that act on the body’s opioid receptors, but there are important distinctions between the two.


Opioids are synthetic or semi-synthetic substances designed to mimic the effects of natural opioids (endorphins) produced by the body. They include prescription painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, as well as illegal substances like heroin.


Opiates are natural substances derived from the opium poppy plant. They include medications such as morphine and codeine. While they have similar effects to opioids, opiates are not synthetic.

The Key Differences: Opioid vs. Opiate

The critical differences between opiates vs. opioids are crucial in understanding how addiction treatment can be tailored to an individual’s needs. Identifying whether a substance is an opiate or opioid can influence the approach to therapy and support systems:

  • Source – Opiates are extracted from the opium poppy plant, making them natural substances. In contrast, opioids are synthesized in laboratories to mimic the pain-relieving properties of natural opiates.
  • Common Examples – For opiates, morphine, and codeine are prime examples. Opioids include a broader range, covering everything from legally prescribed medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone to illicit drugs such as heroin and synthetic fentanyl.
  • Impact on Treatment – Understanding whether an individual is struggling with an opiate or opioid addiction helps healthcare providers develop more personalized and effective treatment plans, leveraging specific medical and emotional support strategies that resonate with the precise nature of their addiction.

In navigating through the complex realm of opiates vs. opioids, it is essential to approach each person’s situation with empathy, support, and a deep understanding of these differences to foster a nurturing path toward recovery.

Similarities Between Opiates and Opioids

Despite the distinctions between opiates and opioids, they share significant similarities that underscore the challenges of addiction and the pathways to recovery. Both affect the brain’s reward system, creating a potential for dependency and addiction. Here are key similarities:

  • Effect on the brain – Both opiates and opioids bind to receptors in the brain, reducing the perception of pain and releasing high levels of dopamine, which can lead to a cycle of misuse and addiction.
  • Risk of dependency – Regardless of whether a substance is an opiate or an opioid, both carry a high risk of developing physical and psychological dependency, especially with long-term use.
  • Treatment approaches – Effective treatment often involves a combination of medication-assisted treatment (MAT), counseling, and support groups, highlighting the importance of a comprehensive approach to both opiate and opioid addiction.
  • Impact on individuals and families – The toll on individuals and their loved ones is profound, affecting not just physical health but emotional and financial well-being. It’s a shared struggle, necessitating a supportive, understanding community for recovery.

In compassionate care, recognizing similarities is critical. It forms the basis for an empathetic approach to treatment, fostering hope and belonging for those affected by addiction.

Call MD M.A.T.T. to Begin Recovery with MAT

If you or a loved one is navigating the complexities between opiate vs. opioid addiction, it’s essential to remember that you’re not alone. Our team at MD M.A.T.T. understands the nuanced experiences and challenges of addiction. By contacting us, you’re taking a brave step toward recovery with the support of medication-assisted treatment. Call us today at 410.816.9457 or contact us online to learn more about our addiction treatment options and how to get started.