Research advances understanding of opioid addiction in face of public health crisis

November 13, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC -- As the United States grapples with the devastating effects of an opioid epidemic, researchers are making progress in advancing our understanding of opioid addiction-related health issues, according to studies presented today at Neuroscience 2017, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

Approximately 90 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, creating what public agencies have referred to as both an epidemic and a crisis. Opioids, which include prescription pain medications such as morphine and oxycodone as well as illegal substances such as heroin and fentanyl derivatives, alleviate pain and can induce euphoria by interacting with receptors on nerve cells in the nervous system. They also have high abuse potential, meaning that clinical uses of opioids bear added risks associated with substance use-disorders, physical dependence, and withdrawal.

Today's new findings show that:Other recent findings discussed show that:"Given the current public health crisis as well as the medical importance of safe, effective pain medication, we need to learn as much as possible about the effects and interactions of opioids with the brain and nervous system," said press conference moderator Edward Bilsky, PhD, provost and professor of biomedical sciences at Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences. "These new findings hold promise for advancing treatment options for substance-use disorders and also informing clinical uses of these drugs as analgesics in the treatment of acute and chronic pain."
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This research was supported by national funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, as well as other public, private, and philanthropic organizations worldwide. Find out more about opioid addiction on BrainFacts.org.

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 37,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and nervous system.

Society for Neuroscience

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