The Difference Between Opioids and Morphine

  1. Home
  2. /
  3. Drug Addiction
  4. /
  5. The Difference Between Opioids and Morphine


Discussions about drug addiction frequently turn to opioids and the ongoing opioid epidemic that remains problematic across the nation. Opioid drugs are linked (annually) to thousands of drug overdose deaths in all American states. In addition to the term opioid, another term should be familiar, yet it is not. When discussing drug-related death, opiate drugs are also of concern. While the public frequently uses these terms interchangeably, they do not share the same meaning. It is also vital to remember that both opioid and opiate drugs are highly addictive. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, many, if not all, drugs in these classes are classified as Schedule II drugs. Schedule II drugs are those that have a high risk of addiction. Although some Schedule II drugs are available via prescription (primarily in hospital settings or as part of a chronic pain management treatment plan), others are frequently found as “street drugs.”


The development or manufacturing of opioid and opiate drugs takes one of three paths; naturally occurring, semi-synthetic, or synthetic. The term opiate describes all-natural opioids rather than manufactured or lab-created. Opiate drugs are those solely derived from naturally occurring elements in nature. In the case of morphine, the seedpod from the opium poppy is used. Opioid medications are also derived from natural ingredients; however, a laboratory component is involved in opioid production. Fully synthetic drugs are those that are entirely created using chemicals (based on naturally occurring ingredients) manufactured in a laboratory setting.


When someone struggles with opioid or opiate addiction, the use of these drugs will inevitably lead to harmful physical and psychological effects throughout the body. The safest and most effective way to addiction is at an addiction treatment center like The Hills in Los Angeles, California. 


More About Opioid Drugs 

Opioids are a class of drugs responsible for producing various effects in the brain. They are believed to block pain signals from being received by the brain when sent from different areas in the body. Opioids can be prescription medications (generally known as painkillers) or street drugs such as heroin. In addition to blocking pain signals, opioids can also cause feelings of intense relaxation and a “high” that inhibits certain emotions. Unfortunately, users quickly develop a tolerance to and a physical dependence on opioids, making them highly addictive.


The most commonly used (and abused) opioids are prescription medications such as OxyContin and Vicodin and the street drugs heroin and fentanyl. Fentanyl is an incredibly strong synthetic drug between fifty and one hundred times more potent than morphine, making it highly dangerous.


What are Opiates? 

Opiate drugs are a class of drugs that includes some of the most addictive drugs available today. Medical providers write millions of prescriptions for opiate drugs to patients each year to help manage pain. Opiate drugs are one of a few substances to which patients can develop a dependency after just a few doses. Opiates are prescription drugs made from poppy seeds harvested from the opium plant. The most familiar opiates include opium, codeine, and morphine. 


How Opioids and Opiates Work

Prescription opioids are used to help patients manage moderate to severe pain. They are often prescribed for chronic health conditions where pain management becomes challenging after surgery or injury. Opioids are classified as Schedule II substances due to their high risk of addiction. In fact, one out of every four people who use long-term opioid therapy struggles with opioid addiction. In 2018, nearly 47,000 Americans lost their lives to opioid overdose. Of those, 32% involved prescription opioids obtained through legal prescriptions. 


Opioids work by binding to and activating specific cells called opioid receptors. Opioid receptors are located in many areas of the brain and the spinal cord, and other organs throughout the body. Opioid receptors are especially prominent in areas involved in feelings of pain and pleasure. When opioids attach to these receptors, they block pain signals sent from the brain to the body (or vice versa). Additionally, they increase the amount of dopamine released in the body. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter specifically responsible for feelings of pleasure and joy. With long-term use, opioids can lead to physical and functional changes in dopamine release from the brain. Eventually, an individual who struggles with opioid use disorder is often unable to experience pleasure from typical day-to-day activities and without the use of opioids. 


What is Morphine?

Morphine is a narcotic pain medication. It is a non-synthetic drug, meaning morphine is an opiate. Like other drugs of the same class, morphine has a high potential for addiction. Similar to other opiate drugs, morphine is made from the opium poppy. Morphine, while available by prescription only, has found its way onto the streets and is widely available through illicit drug sales. 


Until recently, morphine was available exclusively through injection; however, today, morphine is available in several forms, making it easier to access both legally and illegally. The most commonly abused forms of morphine are generally oral forms (including extended and immediate-release tablets and capsules). Injectable forms of morphine are also frequently found in non-medical settings. Many who struggle with morphine dependency prefer injectable morphine as the effects of the drug take hold far quicker when introduced directly into the bloodstream. 


Morphine acts similarly to other opioid and opiate drugs on the body and brain. When someone uses morphine, it creates a sense of euphoria and rapidly relieves pain. Chronic use and abuse of morphine can lead to tolerance and addiction. As tolerance develops, larger and more frequent doses of morphine are needed to achieve the same results leading to an elevated risk for fatal overdose. 


The effects of morphine addiction are similar to those of heroin addiction. Once someone develops a morphine addiction, it is very difficult to overcome without treatment assistance. Suddenly quitting morphine can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. Therefore, seeking help at a medically assisted detox program is the best way to cleanse your body of morphine and begin your journey towards sobriety. 


Another interesting note about morphine is that it is often the baseline drug used to describe the potency of other drugs. For example, fentanyl was referred to as being between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine. Researchers and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration use morphine as a baseline to determine the potency of many other drugs as well.


Safely Overcoming Morphine Addiction

The path to overcoming an addiction to morphine is similar to other opioid and opiate drugs. Detoxing alone, commonly called “cold turkey,” can be dangerous, even fatal. Suddenly stopping a frequent use of morphine can lead to severe acute withdrawal symptoms. Deciding to detox alone without help can also be dangerous. Opioid and Opiate detox can lead to breathing and heart difficulties, heart attack, stroke, seizures, and coma. Any of these can be fatal if medical intervention is not available. 


In addition to physical complications, withdrawal can lead to new or worsening mental health struggles. If you were previously diagnosed with a mental health disorder, you might experience new or recurring symptoms, especially if you used substances to cope with your symptoms. 


Medically supervised programs like ours here in our luxury Los Angeles addiction treatment center provide the most successful path to sobriety. In a medically supervised drug detox program, you can rely on a team of skilled treatment providers using proven treatment models to help you overcome addiction and heal from the effects of substance dependency. 


 Detoxing and withdrawing from morphine can be unpleasant and challenging.

 Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict the severity of withdrawal symptoms, the type of withdrawal symptoms, or how long your withdrawal symptoms will last. Detoxing from morphine or another opioid is a process that will inevitably be different for each person. Seeking help from The Hills can make the withdrawal process more comfortable and manageable than you might experience by trying to quit “cold turkey” without help. 


It is important to remember that completing a detox program is not a suitable or adequate substitute for comprehensive addiction treatment. Simply stopping opioid drugs does not address the root cause of your addiction. Achieving and maintaining lasting sobriety requires understanding the reasons behind why you use and how dependency on morphine develops. Successfully maintaining sobriety also requires active participation in a treatment program designed to help you understand addiction and learn more about safe and healthy relapse prevention skills. 


When you arrive at our Los Angeles treatment center, our treatment team will work with you to design an addiction treatment plan that focuses on your unique needs. Addiction is a disease that affects everyone differently. For this reason, cookie-cutter detox and therapy programs are often unsuccessful in helping you achieve and maintain long-term recovery. When you are ready to begin your recovery journey at The Hills,  our medically assisted detox program professionals will help you take your first steps by providing support and guidance throughout the detox process. They will monitor your vitals, including blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature, to ensure your detox is as smooth and comfortable as possible. Depending on your unique needs, your treatment team may provide medication to help reduce the intensity and severity of your symptoms. Once detox is complete, you can easily transition into a therapeutic addiction treatment program here at The Hills. 


Contact the admissions team at The Hills today if you or a loved one struggles with an addiction and you are ready to put struggles with morphine addiction in the past. Withdrawing from drugs on your own can be dangerous. At our medically supervised detox program in our luxury Los Angeles rehab, you can begin your journey towards sobriety knowing you are safe and supported at every step. Contact The Hills today to learn more about our programs and how we can help you.

Related posts