Opioids without the risk of addiction?

Scientists are working to develop medicines that have the pain-relieving effects of opioids without the high risk of misuse and addiction. Since misuse is linked to the euphoric effects of the drug, investigators led by scientists at NIDA’s intramural labs are studying methadone, a drug used to manage opioid addiction that does not have euphoric effects as strong as many other opioids.

Animal studies show that mu opioid receptors in the brain play a key role in the reinforcing effects of opioid drugs, whereas the neuropeptide galanin counteracts the effects of mu opioid receptors. In a recently published study, investigators found a significant difference in the mechanisms of action between methadone and morphine that is determined by the activation of opioid receptor complexes (heteromers) composed of both mu-opioid receptors and one of the galanin receptor subtypes; differences that are key to their subsequent effects on the brain’s dopamine system.

Full story at drugabuse.org

Opioid Treatment Program Helps Keep Families Together

Velva Poole has spent about 20 years as a social worker, mostly in Louisville, Ky. She’s seen people ravaged by methamphetamines and cocaine; now it’s mostly opioids. Most of her clients are parents who have lost custody of their children because of drug use. Poole remembers one mom in particular.

“She had her kids removed the first time for cocaine. And then she had actually gotten them back,” she says. But three months later, the mother relapsed and overdosed on heroin.

“She had to go through the whole thing all over again — having supervised visits with the kids, then having overnights,” Poole recalls. Starting again from the bottom, the mom took steps to reclaim her life.

And, eventually, she did regain custody of her children. Poole recently ran into the woman at the grocery store.

Full story at npr.org

Researchers developing nonopioid drug for chronic pain

Researchers from the Virginia Tech School of Neuroscience are teaming with the University of California San Diego and the U.S. National Institutes of Health to develop a drug — now in its earliest stages — that can treat certain types of chronic pain without the addictive consequences of opioids.

The drug compound, known as ML351, was discovered by researchers from the NIH, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is designed to inhibit the naturally produced enzyme 15-Lipoxygenase-1, which synthesizes bioactive lipids that contribute directly to chronic pain not relieved by common over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. This lack of relief can lead patients to resort to more powerful drugs including opioids such as Oxycodone and other narcotics.

“Our goal is to demonstrate the preclinical efficacy of ML351 for chronic pain that does not respond to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and might otherwise be treated with opioids,” said Ann Gregus, a research scientist with the School of Neuroscience, who is working on the drug compound with Matt Buczynski, an assistant professor of neuroscience who specializes in drug addiction. The School of Neuroscience is part of the College of Science at Virginia Tech.

Full story at Science Daily

More pregnant women are using meth and opioids, study finds

Amphetamine and opioid use in pregnancy increased substantially over the last decade in the United States, a new Michigan Medicine-led study finds. And a disproportionate rise occurred in rural counties.

Among pregnant women in all parts of the country, amphetamine-affected births (mostly attributed to methamphetamine) doubled — from 1.2 per 1,000 hospitalizations in 2008-2009 to 2.4 per 1,000 delivery hospitalizations by 2014-2015, the new research finds.

The rate of opioid use also quadrupled from 1.5 per 1,000 delivery hospitalizations in 2004-2005 to 6.5 per 1,000 delivery hospitalizations in 2014-2015, according to the findings published in the American Journal of Public Health. The study sample included about 47 million deliveries occurring in U.S. hospitals over the 12-year-period.

Full story at Science Daily

Addiction Treatment Gap Is Driving A Black Market For Suboxone

Months in prison didn’t rid Daryl of his addiction to opioids. “Before I left the parking lot of the prison, I was shooting up, getting high,” he says.

Daryl has used heroin and prescription painkillers for more than a decade. Almost four years ago he became one of more than 200 people who tested positive for HIV in a historic outbreak in Scott County, Ind. After that diagnosis, he says, he went on a bender.

But about a year ago, Daryl had an experience that made him realize he might be able to stay away from heroin and opioids. For several days, he says, he couldn’t find drugs. He spent that time in withdrawal.

“It hurts all over. You puke, you get diarrhea,” Daryl says.

Full story at npr.org