Opiate or Opioid?

Opiate or Opioid ?

Many people may be confused by these two terms used by many interchangeably. In face they are not synonyms, but rather refer to related but different chemicals that both bind to the opioid receptor in the brain and in that way have similar pharmacologic effect.
An opiate is a chemical substance that is derived directly from the opium poppy resin and bind to the opioid receptor in the brain. Examples include codeine and opium. Opioids are chemicals that are synthesized or synthetically modified opiates that also bind to the brain’s opioid receptor. Some opioids have been around for decades or longer, like heroin. Others have been discovered and produced by pharmacologic manufacturers for use medicinally. Some examples of these include hydrocodone (vicodin and norco), oxycodone (Percocet, Oxycontin, morphine, Roxicet, and others), fentanyl (duragesic patches), methadone, Dilaudid, and others.
Some opioids have desirable properties for pain management over the opiates. Some like fentanyl can be delivered transdermally, and others like oxycodone are more potent milligram for milligram than codeine or opium.
All of the opioids have many characteristics in common, including physical dependence and addiction risks. Some have more euphoric effect, heroin and oxycodone among the most well known for this property, and so have a higher propensity for abuse and addiction.
Smoking opiates has been a common route of delivery for centuries as opium. Opium dens with water pipes and other devices have been used in Turkey, Asia and elsewhere for much of recorded history. It is certainly no surprise that smoking Oxycontin has become a favored route of abuse in recent years. There is no reason that smoking Oxycontin vs. oxycodone should be much different, so I suspect these two formulations of oxycodone are smoked interchangeably.