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New Paper Accepted for Publication! The Downward Spiral of Chronic Pain, Prescription Opioid Misuse, and Addiction: Cognitive, Affective, and Neuropsychopharmacologic Pathways

August 29, 2013

My colleagues and I recently had a new paper accepted for publication in the highly esteemed, international journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. This paper draws upon current neuropsychopharmacologic research to provide a conceptual framework of the downward spiral leading to opioid misuse and addiction among chronic pain patients taking prescription opioids for pain relief. In brief, we theorize that addictive use of opioids is the outcome of a cycle initiated by chronic pain and negative emotions, leading to attentional hypervigilance for pain and drug cues, dysfunctional connectivity between self-referential and cognitive control networks in the brain, and allostatic dysregulation of stress and reward circuitry. We conclude the paper by introducing Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE) as a potentially effective approach to disrupting the downward spiral. This is a particularly exciting publication for our research team, because it lays the theoretical groundwork for developing new and innovative efforts to help people recover from chronic pain and opioid addiction.

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2 Comments
  1. Congratulations on your paper! As a former counselor and recovering opioid addict, I think it’s wonderful that you are examining this topic. I regret my times of drug seeking, and I particularly regret contributing to a situation in which real needs are sometimes not respected.

    • Thank you very much. I do believe this work is so important. People are suffering and should obtain relief from their pain. But when the solution becomes part of the problem, a new way forward is needed.

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