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Investigating The Link Between Pain And Opioid Misuse

opioid misuse | Just Believe Recovery PA

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Investigating The Link Between Pain And Opioid Misuse

A recent review, published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, investigated the relationship between pain and opioid misuse, including brain circuits believed responsible for the association.

Lead author Adrianne Wilson-Poe, Ph.D.

“We have shown that the brain’s natural opioid system is drastically changed by the presence of pain, and these changes may very well contribute to the difficulty of treating chronic pain with opioids.”

Wilson-Poe and senior author Jose Moron-Concepcion, Ph.D. say that in order to find solutions to the opioid epidemic, researchers must obtain a fundamental understanding of how the brain changes in response to pain, and how these changes interact with exposure to later drug use.

Specifically, the authors say that research from both animal and human studies shows that chronic pain contributes to significant changes in the function of the body’s reward system, such as decreasing dopamine levels.

Dr. Wilson-Poe:

“Our work is attacking this problem head-on by diligently characterizing the mechanisms involved in pain, addiction, and the interaction between them. We envision a future where chronic pain is considered a disease in its own right, not merely a symptom of some other biological process.”

Also, the review points out that opioids are very powerful, and although their use is needed, in the future opioid therapy should be very different from that of today. Fortunately, the problem of opioid addiction is finally being addressed at state and federal levels, including the release of recommended guidelines for prescribing opioids issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year.

According to the CDC, in 2015 more than 33,000 people lost their lives to overdoses related to prescription or illicit opioids or opiates. Indeed, overdoses are now responsible for more deaths than homicides or car accidents. The Center also estimates that around two million people are dependent on the drugs.



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