According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human services, more than 760,000 people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose and nearly 75% of drug overdose deaths in 2020 involved an opioid. Nationally, the opioid crisis claimed 80,411 lives in 2021 to opioid overdose.
What Are Opiates and Opioids?
Opiates are drugs that are made from some varieties of the poppy plant. Opiates produce euphoria and slow respiratory function by activating certain receptors in the central nervous system. High doses can quickly slow respiration and lead to death.
Opioids and opiates are not the same. Opioids are synthetic (not found in nature) or partially synthetic, while opiates are directly derived from the poppy plant. Heroin, morphine and codeine are opiates, though these are often formulated with synthetic materials when purchased illegally.
Synthetic opioids were originally prescribed to patients to treat moderate to severe pain. They are listed under Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act, meaning that they have medical value yet a high potential for abuse.
Common opioids include:
Opiates are meant to suppress pain and reduce anxiety and can be taken by mouth, smoked, snorted or injected.