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Articles on Opioids

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Dr. Laura Kehoe gives a presentation about why emergency room physicians should prescribe buprenorphine for people recovering from opioid overdoses. Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Drugs that treat opioid use disorder are a good use for multibillion-dollar settlement funds

After battling drug manufacturers and distributors in court for years, local and state governments are about to receive a windfall that could expand access to treatments that can save lives.
Methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine distributed by the Drug User Liberation Front, a grassroots organization proving a safe supply of illicit drugs, in Vancouver, in April 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Safer supply of opioids saves lives: Providing alternatives to toxic street drugs

People are dying from using a toxic drug supply. Safer supply and other approaches that listen to the needs of people who use drugs are critical to saving lives and addressing the opioid crisis.
The concept of placebos – which are sometimes called “sugar pills” – has been around since the 1800s. Wladimir Bulgar/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

In research studies and in real life, placebos have a powerful healing effect on the body and mind

Drug manufacturers often shun the use of placebos in clinical trials. But research suggests that placebos could play an important role in the treatment of depression, pain and other maladies.
A part of the brain called the lateral parabrachial nucleus regulates pain, anxiety and breathing. Aleksei Morozov/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Pain and anxiety are linked to breathing in mouse brains – suggesting a potential target to prevent opioid overdose deaths

Opioids can cause death by slowing breathing to dangerously low levels, or stopping it altogether. Examining one area of the brain may eventually lead to safer painkillers.
Exercise spurs the release of the body’s natural cannabinoids, which have myriad benefits for mental health and stress relief. Luca Sage/Stone via Getty Images

The ‘runner’s high’ may result from molecules called cannabinoids – the body’s own version of THC and CBD

A growing body of research points to the body’s natural cannabinoid system as the primary driver behind the runner’s high – and the mental health boost and stress relief following exercise.
Naloxone can prevent deaths from opioid overdose, but there is no way to reverse the effects of benzodiazepine overdose without risk. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

Benzo-dope’ may be replacing fentanyl: Dangerous substance turning up in unregulated opioids

Fentanyl adulteration led to the replacement of heroin in the unregulated drug supply of British Columbia. Now that benzodiazepines are present in many opioids, are we headed towards a ‘new normal?’
One potential way to make opioids less addictive is to make them target injured tissue rather than the healthy brain. PM Images/Photodisk via Getty Images

Designing less addictive opioids, through chemistry

While the COVID-19 pandemic raged on, the opioid epidemic got worse as drug overdose deaths soared. New research proposes a way to chemically modify opioids to reduce the risk of addiction.

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