Heroin Addicts Have Higher Pain Sensitivity, Even During
WEDNESDAY, April 25 (HealthDay News) -- Heroin addicts often
have an increased sensitivity to pain, and this sensitivity does
not subside over the course of treatment with methadone or other
opioids, new research finds.
Researchers from the University of California-Los Angeles sought
to determine how increased sensitivity to pain (also called
hyperalgesia) might change as a heroin addict moves from drug abuse
to stabilization and eventually to maintenance on a pain-treatment
opioid such as methadone or buprenorphine.
The investigators assessed the pain responses of 82 heroin
addicts who sought treatment and were given either methadone or
buprenorphine. The addicts' pain responses were compared to people
who didn't use drugs.
Pain responses in both groups were measured using electrical
stimulation and the cold pressor test, in which a hand is placed in
ice cold water.
The results showed no significant changes in pain response among
heroin addicts who took either methadone or buprenorphine for
The study appears in
The Journal of Pain.
Doctors need to be aware of opioid-induced pain sensitivity
associated with addiction in patients prescribed opioids as well as
those taking the drugs illegally, according to the study.
The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about
treatments for drug addiction.
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