Medications of Abuse

  • Andrea C. King
  • Norman S. Miller


Opioid drugs are commonly used for the relief of pain. The standard medications for severe pain are the derivatives of the opium poppy (opiates) and synthetic drugs that activate the same receptors (opioids). In addition to alleviating perception of pain, however, many opioids also produce a state of well-being or euphoria through central nervous system (CNS) mediated effects. Some individuals may be susceptible to abuse or addiction to the opioids because of these mood-altering effects. Recent research efforts focus on separating the mechanisms underlying analgesia and euphoria in order to develop analgesic medications that do not produce mood-altering effects, and therefore have less abuse liability (O’Brien, 1996). Currently, opioid-related drugs are the standard treatment for severe, acute, and chronic pain associated with cancer, trauma, headache, or other injury. In this chapter we review opioid pharmacology and opioid medications commonly used in analgesia, issues of addiction, including tolerance, withdrawal, and physical dependence, and finally, relevant clinical issues related to the incidence of iatrogenic addiction and individual differences in susceptibility to opioid abuse and addiction.


Pain Management Opioid Receptor Cancer Pain Opioid Analgesic Methadone Maintenance Treatment 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea C. King
    • 1
  • Norman S. Miller
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of the Biology of Addictive DiseasesThe Rockefeller UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryThe University of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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