Facebook pixel

What is the Difference Between Narcotics, Opioids, and Opiates?

What is the Difference Between Narcotics, Opioids, and Opiates?

Jul 4, 2018 | Drug Addiction, QA

These days with all the commotion that surrounds the opioid epidemic, there can be confusion that surrounds some of the terms that you may hear that may seem interchangeable when dealing with drugs. You may hear or read about narcotics, opioids, or opiates and wonder if they are the same, or if they even should be used in accordance to one another. The real answer is that they can be used in the same classification although they all have their own definitions in a medical glossary.


The term opiate is defined as a drug containing opium or its derivatives, used in medicine for inducing sleep and relieving pain.  

Opiates are naturally extracted or refined from the active narcotic components of the opium poppy to help minimize pain.

  • Some of the drugs that are classified as opiates are opium, morphine, codeine, and heroin.


The term opioid is defined as any of several synthetic compounds having effects similar to opium alkaloids and their derivatives.

Opioids are chemical compounds that are not produced from natural plant matter but rather concocted in a laboratory.

  • Some of the drugs that are classified as opioids are Darvocet, Imodium, Vicodin, Oxycodone, Oxymorphone, Demerol, Methadone, and Fentanyl.


The term narcotic is defined as any class of substances that blunt the senses that in large quantities produces euphoria, stupor, or coma, that when used constantly can cause habituation or addiction, and that are used in medicine to relieve pain, cause sedation, and induce sleep.  

Narcotics is a Greek word that means “sleep”. These drugs work by binding to the receptors in the brain that work to reduce pain in the body.

  • Some of the drugs that are classified as narcotics are opiates and opioids.

Overall, if you use opiates, opioids, or narcotics concurrently, people will typically get the gist. Although there are technicalities for each definition that set them apart, they are all similar with their effects and in the way they can easily cause addiction. The term that is used most loosely is opioid because narcotics have been associated with illicit drugs and opioids relate to prescription painkillers.

The healthcare community has changed their terminology and their perspective towards using opioid to better convey how prescription drug abuse and overdose has taken the country by storm in the last few years. Unless under the supervision of a doctor, opiates, opioids, and narcotics are all dangerous when abused in any capacity.

Serenity Oaks Wellness Center is a treatment program that can help someone who has a problem with drugs and alcohol to get sober. Our well-trained staff are instrumental in showing our clients a new way of life in recovery.

Call us today:


Get Started at Serenity Oaks

At Serenity Oaks Wellness Center, we offer residential detox and addiction treatment with a wide range of modalities to address the needs of all our clients. Our high staff-to-client ratio ensures everyone that enters our facility gets the personal attention they need and deserve for a safe and successful detox process. To learn more about our program, contact Serenity Oaks Wellness Center today at 844-720-6847.
Call NowContact Us