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Chronic Opioid Usage-Or How To Loose Brain Cells in 30 Days

A recent small scale study conducted by scientists in the US and Australia showed that patients who took opioids for as little as one month demonstrated changes in the gray matter of the brain, confirmed by MRI.  At present, the authors of the study note that it is preliminary to say exactly what these changes mean...

Grey Matter of the Human Brain


“It’s disturbing to learn that in as little as one month, daily use of opioids can alter brain morphology. And it’s even more disturbing to learn that despite the harm caused to the subjects in the morphine arm, their pain wasn’t any better controlled than the patients receiving placebo,” commented Andrew Kolodny, MD, chief medical officer, Phoenix House; executive director, Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing; and senior scientist, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, Waltham, Mass. “This is strong evidence that for many patients, the risks of long-term opioids clearly outweigh potential benefit.”

Some interesting things to note about this study--

It is important to note that the study authors do not yet know whether the changes in gray matter are due to a something good (such as pain relief) or a negative change (such as addiction)...


The average age of patients in the study was 39 years in the morphine group and 45 years in the placebo group.  The morphine group reported a 29.9 % reduction in pain but those who were given placebo reported a 33.3% reduction in pain!



It will be interesting to see what the long term results of this study will be.  I hope to report to you about this in the future!

You can read the original article here.

Sources: PainMedicineNews; Wikimedia

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