For many, opioid addiction results from the overuse of prescription painkillers. When you suffer from chronic pain, finding something to effectively relieve those symptoms that will not lead to addiction becomes a challenge. Fortunately, a solution may be on the horizon. A team of researchers in the UK have developed a non-addictive nasal spray that is a treatment for pain.

How Addiction Results From Opioid Pain Relievers

Opioid addiction took the lives of more than 63,000 Americans in 2016 alone. Between 2000 and 2016, more than 600,000 people in this country died from a drug overdose, and the driving factor in the rise of overdose deaths is prescription painkillers. Since 1999, deaths attributed to prescription opioids have more than quadrupled.

While opioid drugs chemically react with the opioid receptors in the brain to relieve pain, they also produce pleasurable effects. When overused, tolerance can occur, as can addiction. Other side effects of the prolonged use of prescription opioids include increased sensitivity to pain, depression, sleep issues, nausea, and constipation. Fortunately, an alternative pain medication solution may soon be available.

A New Non-Addictive Nasal Spray for Pain Relief

Scientists at the University College London have discovered that they can use a newly-developed nasal spray, called NM0127, to alleviate pain in animals. Published in January in the Journal of Controlled Release, the spray delivers millions of soluble nanoparticles containing a natural opioid directly to the brain. When tested in a lab, there were no signs of tolerance among the animals, which means that the risk of overdose is presumed to be far lower than that associated with opioid painkillers.

Traditional opioid painkillers, such as hydrocodone or morphine, are absorbed throughout the body, from the brain to the digestive system. This explains why they are effective pain relievers but also create a host of other effects such as euphoria and stomach upset. 

The scientists developing this new nasal spray have discovered another class of opioids in the human body – the enkephalins. These also have pain-relieving effects while being able to avoid dependence at the same time. So far, the problem with these enkephalins is that they break down quickly in the body, so it is difficult to cross the blood-brain barrier with a pill or injection. 

To solve this problem, the team of scientists accomplished several things. First, they created a polymer to encapsulate the enkephalins, producing nano-sized particles that can penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Next, they created a nasal spray of particles that are steadily dissolving and do not seep into other areas of the body. Still in its early stages, the drug shows promise and could begin human testing through the FDA within the next year.

Addiction treatment

Available Addiction Treatment for Opioids

Being addicted to opioids while also suffering from chronic pain can be frustrating and heartbreaking. You feel that you need the substances for pain relief and the thought of living without them can be terrifying. The good news is that there is compassionate addiction treatment available that understands these complex issues.

The Recovery Village offers comprehensive and holistic addiction treatment that is tailored to the needs of each client. We provided medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as well as treatment for co-occurring disorders. If you are struggling with opioid addiction on top of pain issues, you do not have to suffer alone. Contact us now to learn more about admissions and find out how you can begin your journey in recovery.

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UK Researchers Develop Nasal Spray for Pain Relief
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