Adults who mix cannabis with opioids for pain report higher anxiety, depression

A researcher from the University of Houston has found that adults who take prescription opioids for severe pain are more likely to have increased anxiety, depression and substance abuse issues if they also use marijuana.

“Given the fact that cannabis potentially has analgesic properties, some people are turning to it to potentially manage their pain,” Andrew Rogers, said in describing the work published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. Rogers focuses on the intersection of chronic pain and opioid use, and identifying the underlying psychological mechanisms, such as anxiety sensitivity, emotion regulation, pain-related anxiety, of these relationships. Rogers is a doctoral student in clinical psychology who works in the UH Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory and its Substance Use Treatment Clinic.

Under the guidance of advisor Michael Zvolensky, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Professor of psychology and director of the lab and clinic, Rogers surveyed 450 adults throughout the United States who had experienced moderate to severe pain for more than three months. The study revealed not only elevated anxiety and depression symptoms, but also tobacco, alcohol, cocaine and sedative use among those who added the cannabis, compared with those who used opioids alone. No increased pain reduction was reported.

Full story at Science Daily

How cannabinoid drugs affect the experience of pain

A first-of-its-kind meta-analysis of existing research has reviewed the effects of cannabinoid drugs on the experience of pain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that up to 50 million people in the United States have chronic pain.

An increasing amount of people now turn to the medicinal benefits of cannabis for treating and alleviating pain.

As a result, scientists are trying to keep up by studying the effects of cannabinoids on pain.

Full story at Medical News Today

Study upends conventional view of opioid mechanism of action

A new discovery shows that opioids used to treat pain, such as morphine and oxycodone, produce their effects by binding to receptors inside neurons, contrary to conventional wisdom that they acted only on the same surface receptors as endogenous opioids, which are produced naturally in the brain. However, when researchers funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) used a novel molecular probe to test that common assumption, they discovered that medically used opioids also bind to receptors that are not a target for the naturally occurring opioids. NIDA is part of the National Institutes of Health.

This difference between how medically used and naturally made opioids interact with nerve cells may help guide the design of pain relievers that do not produce addiction or other adverse effects produced by morphine and other opioid medicines.

Full story at drugabuse.gov

Kappa Opioid Receptor Structure Revealed, A Potential Milestone in Medication Development

New research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse illuminates the crystal structure of the activated kappa opioid receptor (KOR). The breakthrough could facilitate the development of new medications to treat pain and addiction.

The KOR is activated by one of the body’s natural opioid molecules, called dynorphin. When activated, the receptor produces analgesia. It also suppresses the rewarding effects of addictive drugs, reducing the motivation to use them, but also contributes to withdrawal and stress responses that motivate addictive behavior.

Full story at drugabuse.org

Non-Addictive Drug That Relieves Pain Like Morphine Shows Promise in Mice

An experimental drug that relieves pain like morphine but is not addictive showed promise in a study of mice, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Stanford University researchers gave one group of mice the compound, called PZM21. A second group was given morphine. Both groups of mice were placed on a hot surface. PZM21 offered almost as much pain relief as morphine, and lasted for up to three hours—substantially longer than morphine, the researchers report in the journal Nature.

Full story of experimental non-addictive pain treatment at drugfree.org