The term opiate narrowly refers to psychoactive compounds naturally occurring in the opium poppy (e.g., morphine and codeine). The term opioids refers to the broader class of drugs, including both the opiates and synthetic substances with opiate-like effects. Opioids have traditionally been called narcotics because subjective sleepiness is a typical effect, although inaccurate use of this term in law enforcement to refer to any psychoactive substance (e.g., cocaine) has rendered this term scientifically less valuable.


Opium, the dried resin of the opium poppy containing the active constituents morphine and codeine, was used medicinally and recreationally in a variety of ancient cultures. Medicinal use was primarily to treat diarrhea and produce analgesia. Evidence suggests that opium has been used for at least 5000 years.

The earliest route for ...

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