One of society’s most pervasive issues is the chronic misuse of substances in response to chronic pain. When people misuse pain medications, alcohol, cocaine, and other substances to self-medicate, this can lead to even greater health problems. This substance misuse and potential alternatives are the subjects of new research being funded by a major grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Chronic Pain and Substance Misuse

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services reports that roughly 115 million Americans ages 12 and older misused prescription painkillers in 2016. In the same year, approximately 946,000 people in this country ages 12 and older used heroin. Between 2002 and 2016, the heroin-related overdose deaths in the U.S. soared 533 percent to 13,219.

Many people who misuse drugs do so, or at least started, because of a chronic pain issue. Pain management is an increasingly complex issue, and when it is coupled with substance misuse, it can lead to even more problems and higher healthcare costs.

NIH Gives Grant to Florida Scientist for Research

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine just announced receipt of a $1.8 million grant from the NIH. Lawrence Tool, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical science, will lead a study called “Mixed NOP/MU Compounds and the Involvement of Their Receptors in Analgesia.”

This new study will closely examine changes in the NOP receptor in the spinal cord, brain, and dorsal root ganglia to determine how this relates to the treatment and development of chronic pain. In the past, Dr. Toll has been recognized internationally for co-discovering nociception, which is a neuropeptide that plays a role in the motivation and reward pathways related to the misuse of substances.

Dr. Toll has indicated that this NIH grant combined with other research is enabling his team of researchers to identify different compounds in various in vivo profiles that have a high affinity to both mu receptors and NOP. The goal is that there will be more options for non-opioid pain relief in the near future, which would reduce the need to use opioids long-term and could reduce drug misuse and addiction.

Where to Get Help for an Opioid Use Disorder

When you are struggling with a chronic pain issue, it can be a challenge making it through each day. A well-meaning physician might prescribe pain medication, which only works for a short period or loses its effectiveness due to tolerance issues.

If you have been misusing drugs or have developed a substance use disorder and also suffer from chronic pain, there is help available. There are ways to effectively treat pain without using addictive substances. The Recovery Village offers a holistic and comprehensive addiction treatment program that includes detox services as well as the type of treatment that will best address your particular needs.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.