Antidepressants and Pain Control: A Historical Perspective, Opioids

By | August 12, 2011

The opium poppy is the source of a large number of potent medications. Learning to use these medications wisely is an ongoing problem.

The next major group of drugs used to treat depression were the opioids and with some success. More commonly used to treat pain a number of trials on depression were conducted in the 1940’s an 50’s with mixed results. Mood often improves rapidly, but tolerance, dependence and addiction are major problems limiting long-term use.

Of more recent interest is some work done in the 1990’s on buprenorphine, a mixed agonist-antagonist. These studies showed a very high therapeutic index, but the work was never pursued due to the stigma associated with all narcotics in this country. It is interesting that this drug known more commonly by the trade name Subutex or as a combination with the narcotic antagonist naloxone, as Suboxone is a mainstay in opioid detoxification and the treatment of drug addiction.

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