A Treatment Center Alumni Shares Her Story of Hope and Recovery
One of the hardest aspects of treating chronic pain is that many of the medications available to help are addictive as well as being effective. Once patients become addicted to pain pills, they may find themselves using more and more of the drugs to produce the same pain relieving effect. Of course, this process leads to a serious addiction problem that can lead to accidental overdose.
Drug Treatment Centers encounter people addicted to pain pills who were prescribed these medications for legitimate pain every day. These cases are very difficult, because the addicted person does not usually fall under the same category as the traditional addict, who began using drugs recreationally. The best route to take for drug treatment centers is to offer medically supervised drug detox for these patients and closely monitor their progress afterward. However, even after drug detox, the pain the patient was originally treated for may still exist.
Patients probably will crave their prescribed drug for a long time after they stop using, especially if they are in an enormous amount of pain.
Researchers hope that their findings could help patients avoid pain and at the same time avoid drug detox by providing a safe alternative to taking pain pills that could prevent overdose and dependency.
A new study performed on rats and mice asserts that addiction to heroin and morphine can be blocked. According to the research, there is mechanism located in the immune system that intensifies opioid addiction. This research is good news for drug treatment centers who worry about the increasing addiction to pain pills that users with legitimate chronic pain are experiencing.
There is an immune receptor in the brain that stimulates the reward response for opioids. This response makes opioids addictive. By blocking this receptor, it could be possible to prevent addiction, and at the same time increase the medical benefits of opioids for pain relief. These findings will be published in the Journal of Neuroscience.
In the study, rats and mice received a drug called plus-naloxone, a relative of the drug Narcan. Narcan is prescribed to patients in order to prevent opioid overdoses.
Researcher Mark Huthinson of the University of Adelaide in Australia said, "Our studies have shown conclusively that we can block addiction via the immune system of the brain, without targeting the brain’s wiring. Both the central nervous system and the immune system play important roles in creating addiction, but our studies have shown we only need to block the immune response in the brain to prevent cravings for opioid drugs."
Huthinson said plus-naloxene will be studied on humans to prevent opioid addiction within the next 18 months, now that the tests have been successful on rodents.