TUCSON – Bliss. Euphoria. Calm.
Ask somebody who has ever taken a powerful prescription painkiller to describe the feeling, and they’ll likely respond with words like these.
Sure, these opioid drugs can stop pain. But they also can make you high – and it’s chasing that high that often leads to addiction and sometimes death. Every day in the U.S., 46 people die from overdosing on prescription painkillers, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But what’s exactly happening inside the body when opioids enter the scene? What moves the body from pain relief to addiction to overdose?
To find out, Cronkite News talked to Alexander Sandweiss from the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Arizona. He has spent the past five years studying how opioid drugs interact with the human body because understanding these details can help develop a non-addictive alternative to opioid drugs.