The US Has a Higher Overdose Death Rate Than Any Other Wealthy Nation

The US is in the middle of a devastating drug overdose crisis, one led by opioid-related deaths. But new research out of the University of Southern California highlights just how historically awful the situation really is. It found that the drug overdose mortality in America has shot clear past any similarly wealthy country—with an annual death rate now almost 30 times higher than countries like Japan and Italy. Read More >>

The ‘Holy Grail’ of Safe Opioids Might Be One Step Closer to Reality

The ultimate goal of pain medicine—a powerful painkiller with few to no side effects, such as dependence or overdose—is still elusive. But a team of researchers from Wake Forest University in the US believe they’ve come closer to reaching it. Their latest study, published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine, details an experimental opioid that seems capable of stopping pain in non-human primates, but without any signs of addiction. Read More >>

Scientists May Have Unlocked the Secret of How Ketamine Treats Depression So Quickly

In recent years, the party drug and anaesthetic ketamine has been embraced as a rapidly-acting, if still off-label, medication for some cases of depression and suicidal ideation that don’t respond to other treatments. But there’s still much we don’t understand about how it actually works so quickly to treat the crippling disorder. A new study released Wednesday out of Stanford University suggests that at least some of ketamine’s mojo relies on the same brain receptors that opioid painkillers activate. Read More >>

An Experimental Painkiller Combines the Best Parts of Botox and Opioids—at Least in Mice

Scientists are scrambling to find painkillers that can ease suffering without the addictive potential of opioids. One potential solution, a new study out Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine suggests, might involve creating modified versions of the common wrinkle treatment botox, otherwise known as botulinum toxin. Read More >>

The Strange Connection Between Opioid Addiction and Narcolepsy Might Help Us Treat Both

A new study could revive an abandoned theory about how to treat narcolepsy, the thus-far incurable disorder that makes people chronically sleepy. And it could also provide a new lead on how to treat drug addiction. Read More >>

A Nasal Spray That Shoots Nanosized Opioids to the Brain May Help People Avoid Addiction

As doctors and scientists struggle to turn the tide of an opioid addiction crisis, there are others looking further ahead, trying to create a world where addiction can’t take hold in the first place. One such approach, created by a team of scientists here in the UK, is a nasal spray that shoots a naturally produced opioid straight to the brain—seemingly without causing the euphoric high and tolerance that can lead to dependence. Read More >>