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What Drugs Are Opiates?

Opiates, originally made from the poppy flowering plants, have been existing for centuries. Over the years, communities have used opiates for both decoration and medical purposes. While there are opiates that are considered organic, there are also synthetic ones, but are produced to have the same effect as the pure opiums.

  • There are three types of opiates.
  • The first is a natural type of opium with a mixture of morphine.
  • The second is morphine imitations, namely opioid drugs classified as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and oxymorphone.
  • The third is made artificially with alfentanil, fentanyl, levorphanol, methadone, codeine, meperidine, and propoxyphene.

Natural Opiate Drugs

Natural opioids, as claimed by experts, are made from organic plants that have been identified as opium poppy. While most of the opioid drugs are produced synthetically in laboratories, natural opiates are made from the said plant; the liquid is extracted from the plant’s seed pods. It was claimed that the natural ones have less negative effects than the artificial ones. However, the extracted formula can still be highly addictive and can even cause respiratory complications.

Opium is also prescribed as an anesthetic and cure for nervous disorders, cancers, and migraines. While morphine, a derivative, is also being used as a pain reliever, this natural opiate is frequently used illegally.

Synthetic Opiates

Like the first type, synthetic opiates affect the same areas of the brain and has the same effect as opium. This type of opiates is made from other chemicals that are not present in a poppy plant or from opium and morphine. The ingredients used varies from the type of drug and how the chemist brews it. Nevertheless, they are still used to treat patients that are addicted to it. It is

Semi-synthetic Opiates

The most illegally traded opiate drugs are heroin, a semi-synthetic opiate made from morphine. Chemicals like heroin and oxycontin are mixed to create opiates.  Synthetic and pure opium alkaloids are mixed for producing semi-synthetic opiates. Semi-synthetic opiates are said to be the safest option among the available types.

The common opiates are:


Opium is dried and smoked. It came from the plant opium poppy. As stated by the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, more than 13 million people in the United States alone use opium.


Identified as the most addictive and dangerous opioid, it is illegally smoked, sniffed, or injected. People who share the same syringe has a high risk of HIV infection.


OxyContin is prescribed by physicians as painkillers, but the drug releases substances that are also present in opiums. These are highly addictive.


This type of opiate is also regarded as a narcotic analgesic. It is a pain reliever with brand names as Lorcet, Lortab, and Vicodin.


Codeine is commonly used around the world. It is usually prescribed orally and is said to be the safest class of opioid.


Morphine is the most found substance in opium and was named after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus. It is an effective painkiller, but highly addictive. Morphine is only prescribed by physicians for high levels of pain.

Opiate drugs are Class 2 medications, meaning they can only be prescribed if it is really needed to minimize illegal use.



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