AirTalk for February 8, 2010

Treating pain: opioids vs. alternatives

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NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images

In this picture taken on November 25, 2009, doctor Kamran Haider Bukhari prepares medecines at the Wada (promise) clinic in Islamabad. The Wada clinic has around 20 patients in rehabilitation for heroin use. Pakistan has more than four million drug addicts in its population of 160 million, according to figures compiled by the country's Anti-Narcotics Force, which is responsible for investigating and prosecuting drug offences.

Opiates are drugs derived from the natural resin of the opium poppy, but the name usually is synonymous with opioids, which refer to chemicals that bind to opioid receptors in the central nervous system, mitigating pain. When dealing with serious and chronic pain, they are often the most powerful tools available. However, the side effects are well known—dependence, addiction, and sedation. What are researchers doing to minimize these side-effects? What can be done to minimize the misuse of opioids? And what alternate therapies can make their use unnecessary?

Guests


Dr. Roger Chou, Director of the American Pain Society Clinical Practice Guidelines Program at Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR

Dr. Rick Chavez, an addiction and pain specialist and an assistant clinical professor of medicine. He also consults to the medical board of California and DEA on opiad misuse.


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