What Are the Differences in Opioid Types?

Opioids are a classification of drugs that can be naturally occurring from poppy plants or synthetic (manmade). These types of drugs are primarily used to relieve pain. They are very effective, however, opioids can also be highly addictive and dangerous for a person’s health.

In 2020, 75% of overdose deaths were the result of opioid use. The opioid epidemic is a battle we will be fighting for years to come. The fight starts with understanding the basics about what opioids are, the different types of opioids that exist and how they impact our body.

Different Types of Opioid Substances

The different types of opioids fall into three categories:

Naturally-Derived Opioids

Morphine – Morphine is used in hospitals, but it’s actually a natural substance from the seed pods of poppy plants. The use of morphine as a pain reliever during times of war has been problematic in the past. It’s attributed with causing drug addictions in many veterans of the Civil War and Vietnam.

Semisynthetic Opioids

Heroin – The natural opioid heroin has been used for well over a century. It’s derived from morphine, but is considered semisynthetic since the morphine is chemically modified. Heroin can be snorted, smoked or injected. Today, the vast majority of people who use heroin also use another drug, often prescription opioids.

Synthetic Opioids (Manmade)

Fentanyl – Fentanyl has quickly become the most notorious illicit drug on the streets today. It is an extremely potent synthetic opioid that easily causes overdoses. 

Prescription Medications – There are a number of prescription opioid pain relievers, which is how opioid addiction begins for many people. Common opioid prescription medications include codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin®) and oxycodone (OxyContin®). 

Types of Opioid Receptors

Different drugs affect the brain differently in large part because of how receptors in the brain and body are impacted. So far, five types of opioid receptors and seven subsets have been identified:

  • Mu receptor (MOR): Cause euphoria, dependence and control over stress response
    • Mu1
    • Mu2
    • Mu3
  • Kappa receptor (KOR): Cause analgesia,dysphoria and diuresis
    • Kappa1
    • Kappa2
    • Kappa3
  • Delta receptor (DOR): Cause analgesia and reduced gastric motility
    • Delta1
    • Delta2
  • Nociception receptor (NOR): Cause analgesia and hyperalgesia 
  • Zeta receptor (ZOR): Regulate developmental processes

On a whole, opioid receptors are responsible for regulating the body’s response to many things from hormones to drugs. They also play a major role in sensory perception.

Identifying the exact type of opioids that are being used is crucial for treatment. The more customized the treatment is the better the chances are for long term recovery. For example, men’s addiction treatment in Austin shouldn’t just meet gender-specific needs. The treatment plan also needs to be specific to the substance right down to the opioid types that are used.

If you are struggling with an opioid addiction, Any Length is a life-saving resource. We address and heal  addiction in a holistic way, incorporating evidence-based services with skills and training that heal mind, body and soul.
Start on the path to opioid independence by contacting the experts at Any Length Men’s Addiction Recovery Program.

Are you ready to discover a new freedom and a new way of life?
We are standing by 24/7 to help you get started!

Call or text (512) 960-1440 for assistance.