FEATURE STORIES

INROADS INTO ADDICTIONS

PBS joins IU and the State of Indiana to tackle an epidemic

Shattering lives and unraveling families and communities, addictions and substance use disorders take a deadly toll. In 2016 alone, for example, over 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. That’s more than the number of people who died during the nation’s worst year of gun violence, the peak year of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, or during the entire Vietnam War. Annual financial costs of this epidemic are 3.5 times the annual expenditure on diabetes and 2.8 times that of cancer.

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Taking aim at opioids

As the annual rate of overdose deaths from opioid painkillers rises, alongside deaths from other drugs, PBS researchers are finding solutions to the crisis in which so many communities find themselves.

Neuroscientists Andrea Hohmann, Ken Mackie and collaborators in their labs recently discovered a compound that, when administered with opioids used to treat chemotherapy-induced pain, prevents both tolerance and physical dependence on opioids in rodents. The drug could reduce the likelihood that chemotherapy patients become addicted to their pain management prescriptions.

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