Tagged With opioids

The devastation wrought by opioids in recent years is only part of a much larger drug crisis in the United States that stretches back four decades, according to a new study published Thursday in Science. Since 1979, the study found, the overdose death rate has been exponentially climbing, even as the deadly drugs of choice have changed.

The ultimate goal of pain medicine—a powerful painkiller with few to no side effects, such as dependence or overdose—is still elusive. But a team of researchers from Wake Forest University in North Carolina believe they’ve come close to reaching it. Their latest study, published in Science Translational Medicine, details an experimental opioid that seems capable of stopping the pain in non-human primates, but without any signs of addiction.

In recent years, the party drug and anesthetic ketamine has been embraced as a rapidly-acting, if still off-label, medication for some cases of depression and suicidal ideation that don’t respond to other treatments. But there’s still much we don’t understand about how it actually works so quickly to treat the crippling disorder. A new study released Wednesday out of Stanford University suggests that at least some of ketamine’s mojo relies on the same brain receptors that opioid painkillers activate.

Despite a growing awareness of the dangers and risks of opioid addiction among doctors and patients, the average amount of opioids prescribed to Americans over the past decade has barely budged, suggests a new study published Wednesday in The BMJ. But it's difficult to know just how much this reality accounts for the current, worsening state of the opioid crisis.

Earlier this week, the US National Institutes of Health revealed its new plan to tackle the US opioid crisis, which it dubbed the Helping to End Addiction Long-term, or HEAL, initiative. Among the ideas presented are research programs devoted to better understanding chronic pain, developing new non-opioid painkillers and addiction treatments, and speeding up the clinical trial process to test out these potential drugs.

Who you are is the result of a complicated interplay between your environment, your genes, and probably a few other factors science has yet to uncover. Genetics influence somewhere around half of a person's "vulnerability to addiction," according to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse. Now, as opioid addiction has reached epidemic levels in the US, researchers have shed light on the role one specific gene plays in influencing the risk of opioid addiction.