Attendees at a presentation during Hospital Medicine 2018 learned that the drug buprenorphine is appropriate to prescribe for hospitalized patients with opioid use disorders. The same medication is also effective for treating the acute pain experienced by patients being treated using buprenorphine.
Significant Increase in Drug Overdose Deaths
Dr. Anika Alvanzo, from John Hopkins Medicine, made a presentation at the conference. She referred to the significant increase in drug overdose deaths over the past 20 years. The number of fatalities jumped from three percent per year between 2006-2014 and 18 percent per year in the years 2014-2016. Dr. Alvanzo said that a large number of these deaths can be linked to increased use of synthetic opioids.
Types of Prescription Pain Medications
While some people refer to opioids to describe all types of prescription pain medications, they differ in the way they are made.
• Opiates are natural pain medications that are derived from opium. The opium is extracted from the opium poppy and is used to make medications such as morphine and codeine.
• Synthetic opioids are manufactured by humans and include methadone and fentanyl.
• Semi-synthetic opioids are a hybrid made from making chemical modifications to opiates. Drugs in this category include oxycodone, hydromorphone and buprenorphine.
Buprenorphine Availability a Bridge to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders
Dr. Alvanzo stated during her presentation that there are currently three medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating opioid use disorder: buprenorphine, naltrexone and methadone. She went on to say that when buprenorphine is prescribed to patients on discharge from hospital, it “significantly increases” the likelihood that the patient will seek professional treatment. Approximately 75 percent of patients were in treatment one month after discharge.
The doctor urged her colleagues attending Hospital Medicine 2018 to consider getting their buprenorphine certification so that they can order the drug within the hospital and at discharge for patients. She referred to buprenorphine availability as a “bridge to treatment” for opioid use disorders patients.
The current opioid crisis is responsible for producing a new epidemic among teens and young adults. It’s a potentially-fatal bacterial heart infection called endocarditis.
This condition is most commonly seen in older adults. Now doctors are seeing it in much younger patients more often due to opioid drug use.
What is Endocarditis and How is is Related to Opioid Abuse?
Endocarditis is a bacterial infection of the inner lining of the heart chamber and its valves. The condition occurs when bacteria are enter the body, then are spread through the bloodstream until they attach themselves to damaged parts of the heart. It is spreading through the use of shared needles by IV drug drug users.
The clump of bacteria grows over time, and the infection can be life-threatening if it isn’t treated, according to Dr. Sarah Wakeman, the Medical Director of the Substance Use Disorder Initiative and the Addiction Consult Team at Massachusetts General Hospital.
How Infection is Spread
In a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital setting, a health care worker will swab a patient’s skin with a disinfectant to kill bacteria before administering an injection. The purpose of this step is to avoid pushing bacteria from the skin into the body with the needle. Opioid drug users who are using needles may not be taking this step, which has led to the increase in endocarditis cases.
Endocarditis Treatment Not Enough for Opioid Use Disorder Patients
Endocarditis can be treated using intravenous antibiotics over a long time. If the damage to the heart valves is severe, surgery may be recommended to replace them.
If the patient is also injecting opioids, such as heroin, treating the infection is only treating half of the problem. The opioid use disorder is still present, and the patient will go right back to using once if he doesn’t get appropriate help for the addiction.
According to a 2016 Tufts University study, hospital admissions for endocarditis due to injectable drug use increased from 3,578 in 2000 to 8,530 in 2013. The study also found that a large number of these cases involved young people aged 15-24.
More hospitals are changing their policies about dispensing opioids to emergency room and surgical patients. Drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin and fentanyl, which are prescribed to temporarily provide relief for moderate to severe pain, have also caused irreparable damage. It’s difficult to determine how many people who currently have an addiction to opioids were first exposed to the drugs at a hospital, but it is often where people first encounter them.
Hospital patients aren’t the only ones who were at risk of becoming addicted to painkillers. People who were prescribed large amounts of this class of drugs would often end up with leftover pills. More than 50 percent of Americans who misuse opioids get them from friends or family members, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Now there is an increasing number of hospitals and other medical practices that are reducing the number of pills being prescribed for pain. Doctors are saying that opioids are not the only choice for treating acute pain and that less potent options are often just as effective. In the past six months, Rush University Medical Center has given patients recovering from surgery ibuprofen, acetaminophen and gabapentin, which is used to treat nerve pain. A mild opioid medication is used to treat sharper spikes of pain and more acute pain.
Dr. Asokumar Buvanendran, a pain specialist at Rush University Medical Center, said that patients were “more satisfied” with the new protocol. It represents a trend that is hopefully leading more people away from these deadly drugs.
According to experts, opioid use skyrocketed in the 1990s when doctors started prescribing them to patients much more often. During this time, physicians were influenced in their choice to provide medicines in this class to patients by aggressive pharmaceutical company marketing tactics.
Rethinking Approach to Treating Pain
Most of the opioids were given to chronic pain patients. They were also the first choice for post-surgical pain or for patients visiting emergency rooms complaining of pain.
Doctors had the idea that drugs didn’t cause addiction; abusers were solely responsible for their own plight if they became addicted. Research has now shown that the properties of the drugs themselves change brain chemistry in users to cause the addiction.
New Opioid Prescribing Guidelines Help Doctors Make Better Decisions
Northwestern Medicine now talks to patients about the dangers of opioids before surgery. Patients are asked to bring any unused medication to follow-up appointments with their surgeon, so that the drugs can be disposed of safely.
All doctors in the state are required to enroll in a database to monitor painkillers and prescriptions that are commonly abused, a measure to seek out those who may be “doctor shopping” to get drugs. Some hospitals have similar in-house systems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called for doctors to prescribe a maximum of seven days’ worth of opioids for patients to take home for acute pain. Many emergency departments today are only giving out 24 – 72 hours’ worth of pills.
While some chronic and severe pain patients may feel these tougher prescribing practices are prohibitive to their care, hopefully there is some comfort knowing that their inconvenience could be contributing to saving lives.
Researchers at New York’s Mt. Sinai Medical Center have pinpointed a specific protein produced by the body’s immune system which may be responsible for a person becoming addicted to cocaine. The scientists believe this discovery could be instrumental in helping to cure cocaine addiction, since they have successfully defeated cocaine dependency in laboratory mice.
The protein, granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF), affects the brain’s reward centers. In cocaine users, levels of G-CSF increase in the brain with repeated use.
Medical Therapies for Treating Cocaine
Lead researcher Dr. Drew Kiraly, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Psychiatry, explained that the results of the study are a very exciting development. Dr. Kiraly pointed out that cocaine addiction has traditionally been treated with psychotherapy and 12-step programs; to date, there are no medication-assisted therapy options available.
Researchers injected G-CSF into the nucleus acumbens (brain reward centers) of laboratory mice. They noted that the mice displayed a “significant increase” in seeking out and consuming cocaine. As the level of G-CSF doses was gradually increased, the mice worked harder to find even more cocaine.
When the research team tested a treatment to neutralize G-CSF, they discovered that the mice’s motivation to look for the drug disappeared. The changes in G-CSF levels were linked exclusively to urges to use cocaine. The mice were still as interested in other treats, such as sugar water, which also activate the reward centers in the brain.
The results of the study were published in Nature Communications. The scientists point out that addiction treatments are plagued with difficulties for several reasons, including issues with “side effects, routes of delivery, or abuse potential of agents tested.”
Future Non-Addictive Treatment Option Might Be Possible
The potential for substance abuse is a risk factor in other options currently in development. The risk is that patients are being weaned from one addictive substance in favor of another one.
The authors of the study feel that G-CSF has the advantage of being an option for reducing the urge to use cocaine while being non-addictive. Dr. Kiraly says there is work required to adapt the study’s findings to humans. However, there is a “high possibility” of it leading to future treatments for human clients.
Dr. Kiraly points out that medications that can change G-CSF are already available and are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Once researchers are able to clarify the best ways to target G-CSF inhibitors to reduce addiction-related behaviors, there is every reason to be optimistic that treatments will be developed for patients.
The mindset you have while you are facing an addiction will play a critical role in your odds of overcoming and combating the problem. If you have the wrong mindset when you are first getting started, you will make your journey harder than it needs to be. Falling into that trap can cause you to lose hope and give up, and you must avoid that mistake at all costs.
If you can develop a growth mindset, you will gain vital insights into your problem and uncover hidden solutions that you never knew existed. Acquiring a growth mindset will take effort in the beginning, and you must pay attention to your thoughts at all times if you don’t want to fall behind. If you remain on track and don’t give up on your goals, you will defeat your addiction in no time. The following guide reveals the main difference between fixed and growth mindsets, but you will also discover how you can cultivate a growth mindset and apply it to your addiction treatment.
Learning about fixed mindsets and why they are harmful is a great starting point for those who want to overcome an addiction. If you have a fixed mindset, you believe that some people are better equipped to handle life’s problems than others. When you have a fixed mindset, you also believe that you can’t do anything to break free from addiction or change your life. You feel stuck when you’re in a fixed mindset.
This mentality is one of the most harmful factors that will hold you in place and stop you from improving your situation, so you must do everything that you can to change the way you see the world and the problems you face. Doing so won’t always be easy, but you will gain a powerful skill that you can use in many areas of your life.
You can gain almost any skill you want if you have a growth mindset, and nothing can stand in your way. When you realize that you can solve almost any problem that presents itself, you will find the motivation and inspiration needed to leave your addiction behind. Rather than giving up when they face trouble, people who have growth mindsets take a step back and look for new and creative ways to reach their desired outcome.
They know that success is not likely on the first or second attempt, but they also understand that persistence will move them toward what they want to achieve. Many factors can impact your addiction and determine the ease with which you can beat it, but having the right mindset is the biggest factor in your success.
Cultivating a Growth Mindset
If you don’t have a growth mindset and want to break the chains of addiction, it’s time to change your perspective, which is not as hard as you might think. You can begin by monitoring each thought you have about addiction and your plan to turn your life around.
Also, look to your past and think of times in which you overcame problems that you once thought were insurmountable. Setting and working toward short-term goals is another great way to prove to yourself that you can make progress and change your situation. Once you complete a small goal and get a little boost of confidence, use the motivation to push yourself past your next milestone. After you reach your milestone, make sure you take time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished.
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Applying a Growth Mindset to Addiction Recovery
Now that you have established a recovery growth mindset, it’s time to apply your new perspective to your recovery plan. You need to accept that you can’t overcome the problem with the tools that you already have on hand. While doing so can be painful, it opens many opportunities for you to reclaim your life and to change the direction in which it’s moving. Take some time to yourself and make a list of the top things that keep you trapped in the endless cycle of addiction.
For some people, the cravings get the best of them and keep pulling them back into the same trap. For others, friends or environmental factors can make it hard to leave addiction behind. You will then want to do research and find out how other people have overcome the problems you are facing. You might not be able to stop using the drug to which you are addicted all at once, but you can reduce the number of times you use the drug, which is a good step along the right path.
Taking the Next Step
Although building a recovery growth mindset is an effective way to defeat addiction and regain control of your life, it’s not always enough. If you are serious about defeating your addiction for good, nothing can compete with the touch of a caring group of experts.
Finding a treatment facility that will help to cultivate a growth mindset is a great way to give yourself the best possible odds of making a full recovery. Even in your darkest moments, we will stand by your side and help you harness the power within you. If you have questions or are ready to start, contact us as soon as you can. We’re here to help.
If you’re reading this, you’ve committed to staying sober. By going through drug rehab, you’ve already come a long way. Establishing a routine as quickly as possible will increase your chances of long-term success.
However, there’s a delicate balance between sticking to a schedule and obsessing over it. If you fail to plan, you open the door to relapse. If you’re rigid and inflexible, you open the door to other addictive behaviors.
Keep reading for tips on creating a routine that strikes the perfect balance.
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The Importance of Routine in Addiction Recovery
Kicking a habit once and for all is difficult if you don’t have anything to replace it with. Having idle time on your hands, time that you once filled by drinking or using drugs, can get you into trouble.
The solution is to make sure that your days and nights are reasonably full. Staying clean is easier once you get into a consistent rhythm; your brain soon kicks in to reward you for making positive changes. Even your body performs better when you set fairly consistent times for eating, sleeping and exercising. Whatever routine you design for yourself is reinforced whenever you repeat it. In time, new habits feel comfortable and familiar, and every recovering addict can use that kind of stability.
In the past, substance abuse was your default setting when you were lonely, bored, depressed or anxious. The idea is to create a new, healthier default setting in which life-enhancing habits replace self-destructive ones. If you establish a good routine, your mind, body and spirit will quickly go along with it. You’ll be in control again.
Establishing a Routine
A structured lifestyle has special benefits for recovering addicts.
Poor health and insomnia are common problems for newly sober people. Scheduling long-overdue doctor visits and dental exams will help you bounce back. Healthy meals will replace lost nutrients. Going to bed and waking at the same time each day will regulate your body clock for better sleep.
Planning a routine in addiction recovery will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. You’ll see that every aspect of life is manageable. Scheduling your time leaves little room for procrastination, loneliness and boredom, which are all triggers to relapse.
Here are some ideas for designing your routine:
Prioritize recovery. Quickly decide where and how often you will attend meetings or speak with your sponsor.
Set a regular bedtime and time to wake up. Allow time for a healthy, unrushed breakfast before work.
Set consistent mealtimes. Research nutrition websites for menu-planning.
Set realistic and consistent times for exercise. Start slowly, and gradually increase the length of your workouts as you build stamina.
Schedule family time or date nights with your spouse.
Schedule daily and weekly household tasks such as cleaning, doing laundry and paying bills.
Schedule time for entertainment, hobbies and socialization. You might enjoy Monday Night Football, a daily crossword, a weekly movie night or a monthly book club. Get in touch with sober friends you haven’t seen in a while. Volunteer in your community.
Make time for quiet, restorative activities like yoga, religious services, journaling or reading inspirational books.
Fill in all the specifics. Take a careful look at the final product, and rethink anything that could become a pitfall.
For example, your bike route shouldn’t take you past the neighborhood bar you used to frequent. You may not be ready to attend the wedding of a friend if a lot of drinking is planned. If you scheduled time for music, change up your playlist to eliminate songs that you associate with drinking or drug use. Gambling, online bidding, viewing pornography, eating junk food and even overexercising are addictive behaviors. Avoid them.
Adjusting for Balance
Try your schedule out for a few days or a couple of weeks. You may have to tweak it for balance. There shouldn’t be large gaps of free time, but you shouldn’t be working 60 hours a week or watching TV all weekend either. Scheduling diverse activities will keep you from getting bored and make you a more well-rounded person.
Becoming fixated on a routine defeats its purpose. You fought hard to break free from addiction, so don’t become a slave to your schedule.
Don’t neglect loved ones just for the sake of ticking off items on your list. Don’t get into a predictable rut where you stagnate. Pencil in plenty of time for classes or new activities that you’ve always wanted to try.
Be flexible. As long as your choices support sobriety, you’re okay. Feel free to skip the garage cleaning on a beautiful day. Take the kids to the park instead.
At Desert Cove Recovery, we’re committed to supporting you through each stage of the journey. If you need help getting started on a routine, call us today to speak with an experienced counselor.
For the average person reading news stories or listening to the situation being discussed on the air, it seems as though the situation is mainly about young people who have moved from a prescription opioid dependency to a heroin addiction and that fentanyl is causing many of the overdose deaths. Popular news stories imply that efforts to stop people from becoming addicted to prescription drugs have not helped, but only made the issue worse.
This is one part of the opioid crisis but it isn’t the full story. As Andrew Kolodny, the co-director of opioid policy research at Brandeis University Heller School for Social Policy and Management pointed out, there are three opioid epidemics impacting North America.
The Three Opioid Epidemics in North America
1. Longtime Addicts
This, according to Kolodny, is the smallest group. Most of them are between the ages of 50-70 and started using heroin in the 1970s and 1980s. They lost a number of their friends to addiction. Fentanyl is responsible for killing off people in this group, due to the heroin supply being “laced” with this powerful pain reliever.
2. Young Rural and Suburban Users
The second group is the middle one, and is between 20-40 years of age. This is the group that gets most of the press coverage. They are people who are being found dead of an overdose, often with needles still in stuck in their arm.
In many instances, the road to addiction starts out with prescription opioids. The person may have started taking medications prescribed for someone else. They may have originally been prescribed the pain medication, but started using it more often than as directed. When their supply ran out, they turned to buying pills on the street.
At some point the cravings for pills increased. The cost was high and heroin could satisfy the cravings at a cheaper price. Switching from pills to heroin wasn’t anything new, according to Kolodny. Again, when dealers started adding fentanyl to their heroin supply around 2011 because it was a cheap filler, the number of overdose victims skyrocketed.
3. Middle-Aged and Senior Adults
The largest group, which has remained mostly under the popular press’ radar, is made up of people in their mid-40s through to their 80s. Their deaths due to opioid abuse are under-reported.
People in this age group may have been taking pain medications prescribed by their primary care doctors for several years. When they pass away from heart disease or another cause, no one wants to think of their long-term opioid use as being a contributing factor. Families also don’t think to ask whether their loved one may not have been using their opioid medication appropriately, whether there was an interaction with other medications (over the counter or herbal supplements included). They wouldn’t ask whether alcohol use and opioids may have been an issue.
The fact there are three sub-groups among this epidemic is why the number of overdose deaths have continued to rise. This isn’t a typical substance abuse problem, as the number of lives lost have actually reduced the average life expectancy in America.
To solve this problem Kolodny suggests investing money in building a new treatment system at an estimated cost of $60 billion. Although there are a ton of addiction programs doing great things, the system as a whole isn’t slowing the number of deaths, so more must be done.
Patients checking into a hospital for surgery is a very common occurrence. After their procedure, they want and expect to be given enough pain medication to be kept comfortable while they recover.
Often, the pain medication given by the surgeon and other medical providers is an opioid. They are prescribed for severe pain and are considered effective at providing temporary relief. The problem is that a number of doctors are prescribing these powerful painkillers without understanding how quickly patients can develop a dependency and thus start to experience withdrawal symptoms. When patients ask about how to taper off the medication when they are recovered from their surgery, they are often not getting enough information or accurate instructions.
Post-Surgical Opioid Dependency
Some doctors and hospital administrators are now asking the question, If some patients are becoming addicted to opioids starting with a stay in a hospital for surgery or another procedure, should the hospital be held responsible? Is the addiction a medical error in the same category as an infection acquired in hospital?
At least three physician/executives with the Hospital Corporation of America have argued that the answer should be, “Yes.” Drs. Michael Schlosser, Ravi Chari and Jonathan Perlin have stated that since this type of addiction arises during a hospital stay and is a “high-cost and high-volume condition,” and that it can often be avoided by implementing and applying new guidelines for patient care.
The doctors say that although it would be difficult for hospitals to monitor all the patients being given opioid pain medications in the weeks and months after their release, hospitals should have a system in place to try. The issue of long-term opioid use as a hospital-acquired condition opens the door for standards of care to be put in place to help patients manage their pain and protect them from coming to future harm.
Holding Hospitals Responsible May Have Financial Impact
Compensation and bonus structures at many hospitals are tied to patient satisfaction surveys, and that has been cited as one reason for doctors to continue over-prescribing drugs in an effort to keep patients happier. Less painkillers initially may mean that more patients experience some additional discomfort, and even though they may be saving lives from potential addiction, the doctors could wind up getting lower reviews and thus less pay.
Majority of Surgical Patients Have Drugs Left Over
Studies have revealed that the majority of patients (between 67-92 percent) have painkillers left over after surgery. Approximately 10 percent of patients need what is described as “intense pain management,” but it is difficult for physicians to identify which patients need this level of pain relief.
There are no set guidelines for what types of opioids should be prescribed after surgery, the typical dose that should be prescribe or how long patients should take them. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released prescribing guidelines for opioids for chronic pain patients, but they only addressed acute pain briefly.
A new study published in September found that the optimal time for opioid use after surgery is between four and nine days.
The holiday season is upon us once again. This time of year brings about many joyful opportunities for gathering together with friends and family members to enjoy food, fun, and laughter. However, for many who were once addicted to alcohol or other substances, the holiday season can prove to be a difficult time as well.
It can be difficult for many people who were once addicted to harmful substances to remain sober during a time when stress and many temptations abound. However, with a plan of action in place, it is possible to fight off temptations and remain sober during this trying time of year. The following tips have been gathered to help you remain sober during the holidays and get your new year off to the best and healthiest start.
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What Makes the Holiday Season Difficult for Many People in Recovery
The holiday season is something many people look forward to. It is a time of excitement, cheer, and happiness for most of us. However, there are certain things about this time of year that can trigger a person in recovery to drink or use a substance again. These temptations might include the following triggers or events.
Added Stress During the Holidays
Shopping for gifts for loved ones, making last minute travel plans, and having a house full of loud relatives can add to the already present stress of everyday life. Add in grocery shopping and cooking an elaborate meal for close friends and family and you have the recipe for a very stressful period of time. Handling stress and not letting it build up is an important part of maintaining control of the situation and your reaction to the events that occur. Sometimes controlling how you react to the situation is all you can do, so it’s vital to have proper ways in which to manage stress to help prevent relapse.
Running into Negative Associates
Whenever someone who is addicted to alcohol or other substances seeks proper treatment, part of the recovery plan usually involves creating a new circle of friends and avoiding those they once abused substances with. While attending holiday parties and other gatherings, it is possible that you may run into people you once spent time with when you were actively abusing alcohol or other substances. For many people, this may bring back memories that can create a strong desire to engage in those negative behaviors once again. Having a plan in place for proper ways to handle these temptations before they occur is an important part of triumphing over them.
Temptations at Gatherings
Holiday parties and gatherings usually include both food and alcohol. Just the mere presence of alcohol can be a reminder of the sensations you experienced when you were consuming it regularly. Therefore, it is important to realize ahead of time that these types of gatherings will almost always include alcohol. A support system that you can rely on to distract you from temptations can be helpful. Knowing your limits and weaknesses can also be beneficial. If you feel being confronted with the temptation of alcohol at parties will be too strong, it may be best to avoid attending them at all.
Tips for Remaining Sober During the Holidays
Having a proper plan in place for dealing with the previously mentioned temptations is an important part of overcoming them. The following tips can give you a good idea of different ways to start formulating a plan for remaining sober this holiday season.
Keep Your Distance from Negative Locations or People
Bumping into people you once spent time with while you were engaging in destructive patterns of drinking could potentially set off emotions that can create temptations to drink again. If you know the areas that these people tend to gather, it is best to avoid them altogether. It is even better if you can arrange to spend time with new friends that help you fight the temptations to drink.
Create New and Healthy Traditions
Replacing old patterns of destructive behavior with new and healthy holiday traditions can help you overcome memories and fight off temptations to engage in these actions again. Starting new traditions will give you something exciting to look forward to each holiday season as you create new memories with your loved ones.
Attend Support Meetings or Groups
Support groups can be a huge blessing during the holiday season. It can be very helpful to associate with others who have overcome their addictions just like you. These individuals know firsthand how hard it can be to fight off temptations during the holidays. Their empathy and understanding can go far towards helping you feel a level of support that will prove encouraging all season long.
Create a Network of Support
Creating a strong network of individuals who understand the temptations this season can create will be beneficial for you as well. Knowing their support is just a phone call away can offer the strength and peace of mind you need to have confidence in your ability to remain sober.
Get Adequate Sleep
Adequate sleep, along with the support provided by nutritious foods and moderate exercise, can go a long way toward strengthening your resolve to stay sober. Sleep deprivation, while common during this time of the year, can weaken your resolve to decline tempting activities, events, or invitations. Taking care of the physical needs of your body and mind is an important part of remaining emotionally strong.
Start the New Year in Continued Recovery
You fought long and hard to break free from the chains of alcohol addiction. You probably attended a treatment program, completely changed many aspects of your life, and endured the difficult time of detoxing your body from the effects of alcohol abuse. Remember the things that you have gone through and how hard you have fought to achieve sobriety. Keeping this journey fresh in your mind can help you fight temptations and remain strong this holiday season and all the ones still to come.
New research from Indiana University-Bloomington may give doctors and their patients living with pain a non-opioid option for treating severe pain.
Researchers conducted a pre-clinical study involving mice. They discovered that compounds known as PAMs (Positive Allosteric Modulators) heighten the effect of natural pain relievers the body produces internally when injured or exposed to stress. PAMs were first discussed with attendees at the 2016 Conference for the Society for Neuroscience, held in San Diego, California.
The researchers chose a PAM that would intensify endocannabinoids. These two brain compounds (anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol) specifically act on the CB1 receptor that responds to the presence of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The PAM used in the study was GAT211, a molecule that coauthor Ganesh Thakur at Northeastern University created that had effects that concentrated on the brain.
The PAM increased the effects of the endocannabinoids without creating the undesired side effects associated with marijuana use. These include lowering of body temperature and clumsiness.
The pain relief achieved from PAM was more effective and lasted longer than when drugs were used that work by breaking down then metabolizing the brain’s cannabis-type compounds. Using PAM on its own means natural painkillers target the correct part of the brain as needed. The alternative is take drugs that bind to receptor sites throughout the body.
Increases the Body’s Natural Ability to Relieve Pain
Study leader Andrea G. Hohmann, a professor and chair of neuroscience at the University’s Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences, stated that the study revealed a PAM increases the body’s pain relieving ability without decreasing effectiveness over time. This is a key component of addiction; a person finds that they need to consume more of their drug of choice to experience the desired effect.
Professor Hohmann went on to say that she sees the research her team is doing as “an important step forward” in the goal to find new, non-addictive pain relievers.
The results of the study were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
Non-Addictive Painkillers Help Save Lives from Opioid Overdose
Continuing to find ways of providing pain relief for patients that don’t involve drugs with a high potential for abuse is of utmost importance in the battle against opioid addiction. Tens of thousands of lives are now lost each year due to overdoses and millions of people are abusing these drugs.
If you have a loved one who needs treatment help for a substance abuse problem, contact Desert Cove today for more information about our program.