What’s in a word?

People are often confused by the words “opioid,” “opiate,” and “narcotic” and ask if they all mean the same thing. Technically, the word “opiate” includes only to substances made from the opium poppy. The word “opioid” includes those compounds, plus the man-made or partially man- made drugs that have the same actions on the body as poppy opiates. All opioids act on receptors in the central nervous system to produce their desired effects. For ease of discussion, I will use the term “opioid” because it is more inclusive. “Narcotic” is a legal term, and usually means any illicit drugs, though the word’s origin in Greek from “narco” means sleep and sedation. This technically could include not just opioids but also prescription sedatives like benzodiazepines. Because different people use the word “narcotic” to mean different things, I will use the word opioid in this blog unless I’m speaking of a praticular compound


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