According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), between 26.4- and 36-million people around the world abuse opiate drugs, including prescription pain relievers and heroin. Opiates change the way the brain responds to pain stimuli and can produce “high” feelings by disrupting the reward and pleasure centers in the brain. In this blog, we’ll dive deeper into what constitutes an opiate as well as opiate withdrawal symptoms.

At The Men’s Vitality Center in Tempe, we’ve helped hundreds of men conquer their opiate addiction. If you or a loved one has an addiction to opium, heroin, oxycontin, or another opiate, call our men’s healthcare physicians today. We’ll do everything we can to help you through this difficult time.

What Drugs Are Considered Opiates?

Opiates are originally derived from the poppy plant and have been around for thousands of years. Opiates can be prescribed by a physician for medicinal purposes, however many people use them recreationally. There are many drugs that fall under the opiate category including fentanyl, codeine, and morphine. The main thing all of these drugs have in common is the ability to slow down the body’s central nervous system. This can lead to a number of health problems, including death, so it’s important to seek medical treatment right away if you suffer from addiction.

Natural Opiates

As their name suggests, natural opiates come from a natural source known as the opium poppy plant. While many opioid drugs are man-made and manufactured in a lab, natural opiates come directly from the plant. Often thought to be less harmful than synthetics, natural opiates can still become addictive and dangerous.

Synthetic Opiates

Similar to opium, synthetic opiates offer the same effects as natural opiates and they are often used in treatment therapies for opiate addiction. While the actual chemicals being used may vary from chemist to chemist, synthetic opiates do not use chemicals found in the poppy plant.

Semisynthetic Opiates

Among the most popular semisynthetic opiates is heroin, which is derived from morphine. Other popular street drugs that fall into this category include hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone. Now that you have an idea of the three main opiate categories, let’s take a look at some popular opiates.


According to the Foundation for a Drug Free World, more than 13 million people use opium worldwide. Created from the white liquid that can be found in poppy plants, opium is among the most expensive opiates in the world. This opiate has the appearance or black or brown tar and is commonly smoked.


One of the most dangerous opiates available is heroin, which claims countless lives each year. Like opium and morphine, heroin is made from the resin of poppy plants which is then refine to make morphine and further refined to make heroin. It can come in the form of white or brown powder, as well as a black sticky substance that is known as black tar heroin. Users can inject, snort, or smoke heroin, and some prefer to mix heroin with crack cocaine to make what is known as a speedball.


Often referred to as “Hillbilly Heroin,” oxycontin is a prescription painkiller similar to vicodin, but as a time-release medication is it designed to distribute its active ingredients over time. This drug’s high content of oxycodone is what makes it popular on the street, and people who abuse it it will crush the tablet and snort it, swallow it, or dilute it with water and inject it. Many users compare the high of oxycontin with that of heroin.

Common Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal

The symptoms of opiate withdrawal will greatly depend on the user and their history with drugs. Everyone experiences withdrawal symptoms differently, however there is a typical timeline for the progression of these symptoms. Early symptoms can begin within the first 24 hours after you stop using the drug and they include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Restlessness
  • Lacrimation (eyes tearing up)
  • Anxiety
  • Runny Nose
  • Excessive Sweating

Later symptoms, which can be more intense, often begin after a day or so. They may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Goose bumps
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure

If you or a loved one is suffering from an opiate addiction, contact the Men’s Vitality Center in Tempe right away.