Non-Addictive Drug Patches for Pain Could Soon Replace Opioids

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Written by: on 27th March, 2018

Researchers at the University of Virginia are developing a new drug delivery patch that can treat pain without the risk for addiction. The drug patch works by delivering pain medication directly to the site instead of traveling through the entire bloodstream and causing side effects like sedation and dependence. The patches contain a non-addictive, non-opioid pain medicine, and could soon replace opioids as a pain treatment if proven safe and successful when tested in clinical trials.

Can Drug Delivery Patches Truly Replace Opioids?

drug patches

The new drug patches in development by University of Virginia researchers are said to work more efficiently than opioids due to the way they relieve pain only in the affected area. When drugs like opioids are injected or taken orally, the drugs travel through the bloodstream to affect the entire body, and not just the pain site. This can cause a range of side effects including insomnia, low blood pressure, and physical dependence. However, the new patches eliminate these side effects and contain a non-addictive painkiller called lidocaine.

Lidocaine patches already exist, and work by blocking pain sensors that lie below the skin. But many times, lidocaine used in patch form isn’t always absorbed by the skin, and isn’t always effective for pain relief since patients lack no control over when medicine is released into the skin. The UVA researchers have redesigned these patches so patients can control the release of medication based on pain level without having to worry about the risk for addiction.

The drug delivery patches also treat pain without affecting the liver, since liver damage is a serious common side effect associated with opioid therapy. The UVA researchers estimate their new pain treatment will be ready to enter clinical trials within the next five years.

What Other Non-Addictive Pain Treatments Are Available?

The federal government recently allocated $500 million for scientific opioid-related research that could help end the opioid crisis. Scientists and researchers across the country are continuing to look for safe pain treatments that won’t put Americans at risk for addiction and overdose. For instance, a group of scientists recently discovered a way to make non-addictive painkillers that only bind to pain receptors, and not to brain receptors that trigger opioid addiction.

Acupuncture is another non-addictive pain treatment becoming more widely available in the U.S. as people are turning to other pain solutions. Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years by other cultures, but is not commonly used in the U.S. due to lack of scientific evidence proving its efficacy. However, a higher number of health insurers are starting to cover acupuncture so patients have more options for pain treatment.

Other non-addictive pain treatments include over-the-counter pain medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and non-drug treatments like exercise therapy, yoga, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Scientists are also working on developing a non-addictive opiate nasal spray to replace painkillers, while another group of researchers have discovered a way to treat pain using snail venom. Many health organizations including the CDC are now recommending that doctors use non-addictive pain treatments such as these before turning to opioids.

Your Options for an Opioid Detox

An opioid detox treatment can help you or a loved one safely and successfully overcome opioid dependence and addiction. Opioid detox treatments involve the use of medications that relieve drug cravings and symptoms like nausea and bone pain so you can withdraw from opioids without experiencing illness or extreme discomfort. Look for drug detox centers that offer a medical detox or medication-assisted treatment, since these two detox methods can help you experience a safer, more comfortable recovery.

Call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 800-483-2193(Who Answers?) to get help with finding the nearest drug detox center. One of our addiction counselors will discuss your treatment options, perform a free insurance verification check, and connect you with a detox center devoted to helping you achieve improved health and sobriety.