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Is Opium as Addictive as Heroin?

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Opium is a highly addictive drug, just as heroin is. The latter drug is synthesized from morphine, which is also found in the plant papaver somniferum, along with opium. These too drugs are very similar, but many wonder if one is more addictive than the other.

Schedule I vs. Schedule II

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, “Opium is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Most opioids are Schedule II, III, IV, or V drugs. Some drugs that are derived from opium, such as heroin, are Schedule I drugs.” While it seems that heroin’s status as a Schedule I substance would mean that it is more addictive than opium, this actually isn’t the case.

Opium as Addictive as Heroin

The way in which heroin is administered makes it seem more addictive than opium.

A drug is placed in its schedule based on whether or not is considered to be useful in a medical sense and how high its likelihood is for abuse. Some drugs, like LSD, that are Schedule I substances are actually not considered to be addictive at all for many reasons but may still be abused and have no accepted medical use. Opium still has some medical uses and is less likely to be abused than heroin. Heroin itself has been understood to have no medical uses after it was banned in 1914 as part of the Harrison Narcotics Act (Center for Substance Abuse Research).

Speed of Onset

Many people believe heroin is more addictive than any other opioid, but this is partially because the former drug can get into the bloodstream faster and because it can get to the brain much more quickly. Opium usually takes a bit longer to kick in than heroin, which makes the process of experiencing the former drug’s effects longer and the desire to take it again less quick to occur.

However, much of this has to do with the way heroin is abused. Because the drug is usually injected, instead of smoked like opium most often is, everything happens much more quickly and the drug reaches the brain much faster. Some people do inject opium, and this can cause the drug to reach the brain more quickly. Heroin still, though, does this faster than almost any other opioid. This does not necessarily mean it is more addictive, just that its effects occur more quickly.


Heroin is often much more available than opium and easier to find than the latter drug. This can lead many individuals to abusing the former more often and even seeking it out when they cannot find opium. However, it is another circumstantial reason for why heroin addiction is much more common than opium addiction.

Just How Addictive is Opium?

Is Opium as Addictive as Heroin?

Anyone who abuses opium often and in large doses is likely to become addicted to it. The drug itself is highly addicting and dangerous, and abusing it can cause serious side effects, not to mention drug-seeking behavior and compulsive use. If you know anyone who is currently abusing opium, or you have been struggling with its abuse yourself, you should seek treatment right away in order to begin a safe and strong recovery. 877-743-0081 (Who Answers?) today. We can help you find a treatment center that fits your needs.

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