The terms opiates and opioids are used interchangeably in most contexts, but they do have differences when compared to one another.
Opiate, in strictest terms, refers to a substance that’s directly derived from opium. This includes codeine.
There are also opioids, which are called this because they work in many of the same ways as opiates, but they aren’t naturally occurring. Instead, they are semi-synthetic or synthetic, meaning they are manufactured using chemical processes. Semi-synthetic opioids are a combination of natural opiates that have gone through chemical changes, while synthetic opioids are entirely made from chemical processes.
Oxycodone and hydrocodone are classified as semi-synthetic opioids, while synthetic opioids include methadone and fentanyl.
The biggest similarity between opioids and opiates is the fact that both act on the opioid receptor systems in the central nervous system. When this happens, they change how pain sensation is experienced, but they can also lead to drowsiness and overall depression of the central nervous system. This CNS depression is one of the reasons opioids and opiates can be dangerous, particularly in high doses.
When someone is abusing opiates or opioids, it can slow their breathing to the point that they nod off, lose consciousness or die.
Opiates and opioids can have similar side effects which include sedation, nausea, vomiting, and itchiness, and they can also lead to abuse and addiction.
Both opiates and opioids can also lead to physical dependence. This means that a person has gotten to the point where their body feels like it must have the drug to function normally. If someone is physically dependent on opiates or opioids, and they stop taking them suddenly, they will go through withdrawal.
Withdrawal from opiates or opioids can include nausea, vomiting, sweating, fatigue, headache, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and diarrhea.
Another term that’s important to know when answering “is codeine an opiate,” is narcotic.
Opioids are also narcotics, as are opiates although some people choose not to use this term because they feel it has negative connotations.
While codeine is technically an opiate, it’s considered one of the milder drugs of this type. However, it should still be used with caution. Codeine is prescribed for the treatment of mild to moderate pain and is often combined with something else like acetaminophen to make it more effective for pain relief.
To sum up, is codeine an opiate? Yes, an opiate is a term that refers to substances naturally derived from the poppy plant, and this includes codeine. There are also semi-synthetic and synthetic opioids, which include prescription drugs, which act in a way similar to natural opiates but are chemically synthesized.