Scientists May Have Found Formula For a Painless Existence

Physical pain is a near universal problem, whether its sudden pangs or chronic aches. Yet, researchers’ efforts to quash it completely have fallen short—possibly due to a moonlighting channel in nerve cells. But that may be about to change.

Source: Scientists may have found formula for a painless existence

Congenital analgesia was the affliction of a character in the Millennium series by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. Now I see that the wiki page has been updated with a reference to this study with the woman…

General pain reduction medicines that are not targeted all the time. If you are getting blasted with opioids, you are aiming your guns at the entire body. Opioids, while pretty good at pain reduction, have a lot of negative side effects, not the least of which is just boring old addiction.

Additionally, if you are busy dying of cancer, it probably isn’t all that dangerous, relatively speaking. If hospice care, if you could kill the pain without giving someone mind ruining levels of pain killers, you have done a very good thing. A lot of times to relieve the pain of someone who is dying, you basically have to dump them into a drug induced haze. That is all well and good until that person wants to speak to family. Being able to just turn off the pain without rendering someone incoherent would be a massive boon.

It could also be useful for people who are not dying, but are in agonizing pain. Again, some pain requires basically drugging someone stupid. Sure, there are dangers, but you can live with those. The risk of accidentally harming yourself and not knowing is a lot more appealing than being bed ridden in withering agony in some cases. Finally, if the control is analog, you might be able to dial back pain without turning it off. Imagine if you could dull the pain to level someone will still detect catastrophic damage (I put my hand on a hot stove), but it dulls out lower level chronic pain.

This is a really kick ass and revolutionary break through if it pans out. Near total control over pain using a drug that is almost certainly less harmful than opioids? Yes please! I really hope this turns out to be as good as it looks. If nothing else, it might go a long way to reducing the opiate addictions that our current pain management regimes have a nasty habit of producing.

What It’s Like to Quit Drugs By Blocking the Highs

If you could take the high out of drugs, what would be the point in taking them? Sujata Gupta meets the unorthodox doctor who thinks he can block some of the world’s most addictive pills.

Source: What It’s Like to Quit Drugs By Blocking the Highs

People rarely get addicted to these things because they want to get high – they get addicted because it’s the only thing that allows them to cope with their issues. Removing the reward certainly allows them to come off the meds but you need to be sure that the illness can be dealt with without those meds.

How Scientists Gained the Ability to Reverse Heroin Overdoses

Naloxone can reverse an otherwise fatal heroin overdose within minutes. Carrie Arnold meets the doctors who put this remarkable drug in the hands of the police, families and addicts—and saved thousands of lives.

…it as one of the few defences against the epidemic of overdoses that was killing people across America. Cheap and relatively pure heroin had recently become easier to obtain, but that wasn’t the only cause. A few years earlier, physicians had begun to change the way they prescribed opioid painkillers. These drugs can be highly addictive; one physician I talked to called them “heroin in pill form”. Yet between 1991 and 2013, prescriptions for opioid painkillers jumped from 76 million to 207 million per year, partly because physicians became more willing to prescribe the drugs to patients with chronic pain. Some of these patients found themselves hooked. And then, instead of sticking with these relatively expensive prescription narcotics, some began injecting heroin, for the better high and lower cost. America’s prescription opioid and heroin epidemics were merging into a single monster, one with tentacles that seemed to be everywhere, slowly strangling young and old.

Source: How Scientists Gained the Ability to Reverse Overdoses

It’s an involved, interesting and balanced article.  It addresses the concerns that reversing an overdose enables addicts, and how the drug works (receptor antagonist).

Did you know that heroin was originally a trademark?  Like hoover and xerox, trademark names that became so commonplace the branding lost significance.