The biological pathways related to physical and emotional pain overlap.
People who use painkillers for non-medical reasons often justify it as a form of self-medication for legitimate medical diagnoses such as depression, anxiety and stress.
Many people may misunderstand the basics about opioids. That prevents researchers from understanding the full scope of the epidemic.
Many people aren't just taking one drug but a combination of drugs.
wong yu liang/Shutterstock
The opioid crisis in the US has quadrupled the number of babies born addicted to drugs.
The US opioid epidemic killed more than 40,000 people in 2016 – now, other countries are at risk.
There are proven ways to reduce drug deaths. Unfortunately, the UK government is not implementing them.
Research shows that money and meals from the pharmaceutical industry do increase the amount doctors prescribe the drugs being marketed.
Big Pharma in Canada is far behind the curve when it comes to disclosing what payments to health-care professionals are for.
The U.S. has the highest daily opioid use rate in the world.
Most countries need to find a happy balance between the American attitude that all pain needs to be cured – and the ethos in other countries that pain is to be endured.
Scientists have taken atomic resolution snapshots of an opioid receptor interacting with a drug. Now they are using these images to design "biased" opioids that block pain without the dangerous side effects.
The term “epidemic” is now being used for more than infectious diseases. So what does it actually mean?
The obesity epidemic, the flu epidemic, the opioid epidemic... in the 21st century, everything seems to be an "epidemic". But what does the term actually mean?
Every patient is different.
Each person experiences pain differently, depending on his or her genetic makeup. That makes it difficult to figure out what treatments patients need.
Naloxone is often used to revive people overdosing from opioids.
Scientists are just starting to understand how your parents' genes and experiences might shape your own susceptibility to dangerous drugs. Could that help to stop addictions before they start?
Thousands of people are dying every year of opioid-related overdoses, in an epidemic that traces its roots to 1996 and the introduction of the prescription drug OxyContin. Here, prescription opioids are shown in Toronto during 2017.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Prescription drugs are policed by industry and Health Canada has never prosecuted a drug company for illegally marketing a drug.
Exercise is recommended as an effective non-opioid strategy for non-cancer pain such as fibromyalgia and chronic low back pain. Yet most adults living with chronic pain do not exercise. Or they exercise very little.
Research shows that exercise offers promise -- as an alternative to prescription opioids -- for relieving chronic pain.
Pain lets us know when there is something wrong, but sometimes our brains can trick us.
Mai Lam/The Conversation NY-BD-CC
Trust Me I’m An Expert: The science of pain.
The Conversation 58.7 MB (download)
Our podcast Trust Me, I'm An Expert, goes beyond the headlines and asks researchers to explain the evidence on issues making news. Today, we're talking pain and what science says about managing it.
Needles used for shooting heroin and other opioids litter the ground of a Philadelphia park.
By undermining the ACA, Republicans may be taking away one of the health care system's best tools for improving the lives of those with addiction.
Vivitrol, a non-opioid medication, is used to treat some cases of opioid dependence. Addiction specialists stress that not all patients need medication, but that many do.
AP Photo/Carla K. Carlson
The U.S. has had multiple drug epidemics, and, until recently, has not had evidence-tested ways to help people. That has changed. New medicines can help. But other medical issues should also be addressed.
Opioids don’t work for chronic pain, and can make it worse in the long-term.
Australia is facing a critical public health issue of poorly managed pain. The result is more opioid-related deaths than the road toll.
A woman holds a photo of her best friend, who died of a drug overdose in January 2017, before a march to draw attention to the opioid overdose epidemic, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, B.C.
(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Catastrophic increases in opioid overdose deaths across Canada require a broad response -- tackling housing, food and income insecurity as well as the contaminated drug supply.
When it comes to treating low back pain, opioids have many risks and few benefits.
Opioids should only be considered in limited circumstances for low back pain.