Is Heroin An Opiate?

Heroin is a highly addictive drug that’s ravaging communities from inner cities to suburbs around the country. It’s not uncommon for dozens of overdoses to hit the same community in a few days, and images of parents passed out in cars after doing heroin while their children look on is becoming the new normal. It’s a sad situation, but also one that’s difficult to come up with solutions to deal with.

One of the key things that can be done as there are efforts to curb this epidemic is for people to empower themselves by learning about heroin, including what it is, its effects and how to identify it.

One of the top questions a lot of people have about the drug is “is heroin an opiate?” The following outlines some key facts about heroin and answers the question of if it is an opiate.

Is Heroin An Opiate?
To begin, yes, heroin can be classified as an opiate, but it’s also referred to as an opioid. These terms are often used interchangeably, but we’ll go into what they mean below. Heroin, as an opioid is a drug that creates a very pleasant or even euphoric sensation when it’s taken. It decreases sensations of pain, but it also produces feelings of warmth and sleepiness.

When someone takes heroin or any opioid drug, they not only have a feeling of euphoria, but it also tends to change how their brain’s reward system acts. Opioids are taken, and they then bind to the opioid receptors in the brain.

When this happens, a flood of dopamine pours into the brain, at a much greater level than what could happen naturally. The brain then feels as if it wants you to continue doing the behaviors that created that feeling, thus the desire to take more heroin.

This concept is similar to other opioids as well, including prescription pain medicines.

So yes, to answer “is heroin an opiate,” it is. What about the difference between the terms opiate and opioid?

While they are used interchangeably, in the strictest of terms, an opiate is an alkaloid that comes from the opium poppy. The drugs that can be technically classified as opiates include morphine, codeine, and heroin. They have a natural basis in the that they are derived from opium, but heroin undergoes chemical synthesis and is also often mixed with other substances, including toxins.

Opioids, on the other hand, are pain medications that are available with a prescription, and they work in a way very similar to opiates, however, they are synthetic or partially synthetic.

Opioids include methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, among others.

All of these drugs change the way you perceive pain because they attach to opioid receptors, but of course, as was touched on above, they also change how your brain feels pleasure.

After using these drugs for a while, the brain becomes rewired to the point that it’s difficult to feel pleasure or happiness without their presence. Eventually, this can go away, but this is one of the reasons people often experience emotional and mental health issues when they’re recovering from an addiction to a drug like heroin.

Along with answering “is heroin an opiate,” it can be useful to know what this drug can do to your body. When someone takes heroin, it puts them in a state of what feels like intense relaxation, but this reflects the dangers of the drug as well. Heroin and other opiates and opioids slow the respiratory system because the impact they have on the central nervous system.

When you overdose on heroin or any opiate or opioid, your blood pressure and breathing can slow to the point where you slip into a coma, or your heart fails, and you die.

Opiates are not just dangerous, but they’re also incredibly addictive. It’s important for people to know that yes, heroin is an opiate, and also to know how risky opiates are, and how often they contribute to severe consequences and death for users.

Is Heroin An Opiate?
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