Brain and Behavior

Neurotransmitters and Other Brain Chemicals

How are opiates different from opioids?

Opiates are essentially the plant form of opioids. Opiates are extracted from the sap of the opium poppy. Synthetic versions of this chemical are also called opiates. When ingested, opiates bind to the opioid receptors in the human brain. Thus the brain responds to opiates the same way that it responds to our own endogenous (internally created) opioids. Several very potent painkillers, such as morphine, heroin, and opium, are made from opiates. Because of the relaxing and euphoric effects of opiates, opiate-based medications are popular drugs of abuse.


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