Addiction Myths, Drug Addiction, Facts About Addiction, Substance Abuse  |  August 04, 2016

Opioids are a first line of defense for conventional medicine in the battle against acute and chronic pain.

Sadly, an overly aggressive reliance on those drugs has created a public health crisis of addiction in America.

Given the importance of these drugs to conventional practitioners, one would think we know everything about their secondary effects – right?

Not exactly.

The medical community has long recognized that opioids are highly addictive.  They have also known that they can cause abnormal pain sensitivity—termed opioid-induced hyperalgesia.  Until recently, this sensitivity was understood to occur only while opioids were still present in the body.

Researchers in the U.S. recently sought to investigate the latter long held assumption.

To do that, they induced sciatica-like pain in rats by constricting their sciatic nerves in the laboratory.  Once the rats were in pain, the researchers used either a placebo (a solution of salt water) or an opioid drug over a five-day period for pain management.

As expected, the rats receiving the placebo pain meds experienced pain from the injured nerve for a period of four weeks before recovering.

To their surprise – the five day opioid treatment group experienced pain levels for a full ten weeks – more than two times longer than the placebo group.

A second arm of the research project showed that the opioid treated group also experienced greater pain during the experiment than the placebo group.

Surprised by their findings, researchers were anxious to know what was going on in the opioid treated group.

It turns out that nerve cells are not the only actors in pain response.  Another group of very prominent nervous system cells called glial cells are also involved.  When subjected to pain in the presence of opioid drugs, these cells “released more immune signals, keeping the ‘pain volume’ turned up higher and for longer, than had they only been exposed to signals from the injured nerve.”

What’s more, this most recent study is supported by clinical reports suggesting that opioid use during surgery or for lower back pain is associated with subsequent chronic pain and increased disability…

What’s the takeaway in all of this?

According the authors of this study:  “While opioids are the best painkillers available for the management of moderate-to-severe acute pain, the use of this drug class to manage pain lasting longer than a year does not have scientific support.”

We would argue that the dangerously addictive nature of these drugs argues against their use as well…

If you or a member of your family are battling addiction to opioid drugs and need help, contact the addiction rehab specialists at Aware Recovery Care in Connecticut.  Our approach to drug and alcohol addiction rehab is producing results 350% above the national average…  To learn more - contact us today www.awarerecoverycare.com

Photo credit: frankieleon via Foter.com / CC BY