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Opioid medications like Oxycodone have been one of the major players in the opioid epidemic. In fact, four out of five people addicted to heroin first began suffering from addiction after misusing prescription painkillers.
This is because opioid medications are highly addictive but they're also commonly used to treat chronic pain. Unlike acute pain, chronic pain doesn't respond to over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen. This has led many chronic pain sufferers to turn to more dangerous alternatives like opioid prescriptions.
However, a new drug discovery may soon change the future of chronic pain and the opioid crisis.
Researchers at the Virginia Tech School of Neuroscience and the University of California San Diego are currently in the early stages of developing a new non-opioid drug for chronic pain. The drug, named ML351, inhibits a naturally produced enzyme in the body that contributes to chronic pain.
Many medications that are designed to treat chronic pain may only treat certain types such as that experienced by people with autoimmune diseases. ML351 is expected to target a new signaling pathway researchers believe is directly responsible for chronic pain that's unresponsive to other treatments.
If the development of ML351 is successful and the drug is capable of treating patients for chronic pain without risk for addiction, there's a chance ML351 could make painkiller addiction a smaller problem.
With alternatives to opioid medications available, the nation may be able to focus directly on how to treat those suffering from addiction and how to stop the side of the epidemic that's unrelated to painkillers.
The good news is that there's already an effective opioid and heroin addiction treatment option available: methadone. Unlike abstinence-based, non-medical treatments for opiate addiction, which have a success rate of 5% to 10%, methadone treatment programs have a success rate of 60% to 90%.
Methadone clinics like Sundance Methadone Treatment Center provide patients with a measured dose of methadone, which lasts between 24 and 36 hours. Methadone blocks the brain's pain receptors and opioid receptors so the patient doesn't experience the pain of withdrawal symptoms or the euphoric effects of an addictive substance.
Methadone treatment programs have been around for over 50 years and they still remain the most effective option for heroin addiction treatment. To learn more about methadone and how it can help with your addiction, contact Sundance Methadone Treatment Center today.