Dependence on opioids owing to misuse or overdose has marred pain treatment options in the country as physicians are now finding it difficult to recommend prescription medications to their patients complaining of acute pain. This is in sharp contrast to earlier suggestions by the medical fraternity that pain relievers are the most efficient treatment for complete recovery from acute and chronic pain.
While scientists are busy finding out alternative ways of treating pain without involving prescription opioids, a group of researchers has found something that they believe plays a major role in addiction. This discovery in the study titled “RGS9-2 Modulates Responses to Oxycodone in Pain-Free and Chronic Pain States” will go a long way in understanding addiction-related behaviors and thus, solve the major addiction crisis that the country is going through. The study findings have been published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology in January 2017.
By following the mice model, the researchers revealed that a key signaling protein in the brain identified as RGS9-2 is associated with addictive behaviors. The scientists stress that the manner of oxycodone action revealed in this research will help doctors and researchers formulate methods to distinguish the analgesic effects of opioids from their addiction-related effects.
Examining mechanism of addiction-related behaviors
The researchers for study purposes evaluated effects of extreme and prolonged pain on laboratory mice. They found that RGS9-2, the intracellular protein regulating the functioning of opioid receptors in the brain reward center, aggravated feeling of dependence on oxycodone in mice either afflicted with acute and critical pain or living in a pain-free state. The mice that did not have the gene necessary for encoding RGS9-2 exhibited reduced inclination to develop addiction-related behaviors. Moreover, the absence of RGS9-2 functioning had no impact on the pain-relieving effects of oxycodone.
It was also observed that RSG9-2 plays a protective role in development of oxycodone tolerance as RGSKO mice showed greater resilience to the pain-relieving effects of the drug. It was also observed that similar mechanisms regulate sensitiveness to oxycodone dependence in both pain-free and acute pain states.
Elaborating the findings of the study, one of the co-authors of the study, Dr. Venetia Zachariou, associate professor in the Fishberg Department of Neuroscience and The Friedman Brain Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai said, “Although oxycodone produces similar analgesic and behavioral effects to those observed with morphine, our study demonstrates that the intracellular actions of morphine and oxycodone are distinct. Our work reveals that intracellular factors that prevent the actions of morphine may actually promote the actions of oxycodone.” She also added that this discovery is important to devise pain management strategies other than prescribing oxycodone and morphine that are highly addictive.
The findings of the study are important as observations made by the scientists shed light on pathways involved in behavioral responses to painkillers whether in a state of pain or without. This can help scientists evaluate the potential risks and benefits associated with advising oxycodone for pain treatment. The findings are also important as they would help plan and implement effective medical interventions for pain management that would be less addictive in nature.
Behavioral responses may help in finding solution to addiction problems
Recuperation from addictive behaviors can be made possible only after following a strict and comprehensive treatment program. While treatment methods differ according to the extent of problems faced by patients, the foremost step of detoxification is common to all. The detox process is imperative to prepare the body for complete abstention from the addictive substance. Clinicians may recommend natural or medical detox as per the requirements of the patients. Since there are withdrawal symptoms, it is necessary to carry out the process in the presence of a certified medical practitioner who can monitor occurrence of any side effects.
If you or a loved one is addicted to drugs including prescription opioids, the Florida Detox Helpline can help you get in touch with one of the best Florida drug detox facilities in your vicinity. You can call our 24/7 helpline number 855-920-9869 or chat online with our representatives to get more information on the finest detox center in Florida providing evidence-based therapeutic interventions to ensure safe detoxification.