Science & Technology

Is it possible to reduce opioid addiction? [Video]

In 2017, millions of people around the world became opioid addicts and 115,000 died from overdose.

Although opioids are the most powerful painkillers we have, they are incredibly addictive. Tens of thousands of people die each year from opioid overdose in the United States. Is it possible to get a drug that is as good as relieving pain but without the risk of addiction or overdose?

If you or anyone you know suffers from opioid addiction in the United States, SAMHSA can help (for free). Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or website..

Video transcript:

Opioids are the most powerful painkillers we have, but they are also addictive.

In 2017, millions of people around the world became opioid addicts and 115,000 died from overdose.

This is not a new issue.

For centuries, we’ve been looking for ways to make opioids less addictive, such as when we changed morphine to make a drug called heroin in the 1890s. We all know that it didn’t work.

So can we get a drug that is as good as relieving pain, but without the risk of addiction or overdose?

Opioids have existed for thousands of years since the beginning of human civilization. It all started with opium made from the opium milky liquid.

Poppies were apparently called joyous plants because they made us feel better.

People have also found that they are good at treating pain during the Civil War. The Union Army apparently issued 10 million opium pills to their soldiers.

It didn’t take long for people to realize that they were crazy about opium. As a result, scientists have begun looking for other opioids that may not cause the same problem.

In 1803, a German chemist named Friedrichseltuner discovered in its milky liquid a chemical that was far more powerful than opium. He called it a morpheme and now calls it morphine.

He found it to be much more powerful than opium, so he inferred that you would have less need for it to get the same pain relief. And that means less risk of addiction.

After all, Zeltuner became addicted while doing research.

And he sounded the alarm, but people didn’t listen. Within decades, morphine was mass-produced by a major German pharmaceutical company. And it soon became clear that Zeltuna’s theory was wrong. People may be crazy about morphine.

So what did they do about it? Make heroin.

No, seriously. They made heroin.

Heroin was also very effective in treating pain, but at even lower doses. Again, scientists believe that if you don’t need too much, you’ll end up with a less addictive opioid.

In fact, in the early 1900s, American religious groups provided free samples of heroin by mail in an attempt to separate people from morphine.

This is your heroin, Sir.

That didn’t work either.

Fast-forwarding about a century later, scientists created opioids like oxycontin, which were also considered less addictive.

You are probably looking at the trends here. Throughout history, we have sought to get the same painkiller benefits that opioids give us without creating new addictive drugs. But what happened is that we have just created more types of opioids that people are addicted to.

So why are opioids so addictive? And if they are known to be this addictive and people overdose them, why are they still prescribed?

Well, they are incredible painkillers. And many people rely on them to deal with injuries, surgery, and even the chronic pain of cancer.

That’s why they work so well. Opioids mimic the pain-relieving chemicals or endorphins that your body naturally produces.

Therefore, when you take opioids, they enter the bloodstream, where they enter the nervous system and bind to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.

When bound, it blocks the release of chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters usually send the message “Hey, I’m in pain” to the brain.

Sounds good.

Now let’s get down to the addiction part.

Opioids release dopamine into your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that the brain makes when expecting or experiencing rewards.

Like when we eat our favorite foods or when we receive texts from people we really like. Dopamine makes us feel happy.And usually that level is suppressed by a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid. acid Or GABA.

However, opioids also blocked the release of GABA. So dopamine can do that and is completely chaotic that will engross your brain in that happy feeling.

It’s an addiction. And addiction is resistant to the need for more and more drugs to achieve the same physical effect.

Too much opioid intake can lead to overdose and stop breathing if not treated immediately.

Over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen do not mimic endorphins. Therefore, it is not a powerful analgesic, but it does not cause the release of dopamine. That is, it is not addictive.

So there are painkillers that work like opioids, but can they lead to addiction or overdose?

Scientists are working hard, but it’s really hard to find something very good at treating pain without running dopamine.

There are many ongoing studies investigating how our body experiences pain to understand if there are other nervous system targets that do not lead to the release of dopamine.

When it comes to helping people who are addicted and have developed resistance to opioids but want to get out of them, there are drugs that can help with the painful symptoms that come from withdrawal.

Researchers are also developing entirely new approaches, such as creating vaccines that block the immune system from binding to opioids or their degradation products, but to opioid receptors on cells.

This is actually a fairly large area of ​​research and has been heavily funded in recent years. So it would be interesting to see where it goes.

Is it possible to reduce opioid addiction? [Video] Is it possible to reduce opioid addiction? [Video]

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