Allison Elliott-Shannon

Research Sheds Light on Pain Pill Abuse

Published: Sep 26, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 26, 2012) — A study by a team of University of Kentucky researchers has shed new light on the potential habit-forming properties of the popular pain medication tramadol, in research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  The paper is slated to appear in an upcoming edition of the academic journal Psychopharmacology.

 

Prescription pain killer abuse is a major public health problem in the U.S. In 2010, more individuals over the age of 12 reported nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers in the past month than use of cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin.

 

"Prescription pain pill abuse is a real problem in Kentucky. We have lots of overdoses. We held a summit here in February specifically about partnering law enforcement and medicine to tackle this problem," said lead study author William W. Stoops of the UK College of Medicine Department of Behavioral Science, the UK Center on Drug and Alcohol Research (CDAR) and the UK College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology.

 

Other UK authors include: Michelle R. Lofwall, Paul A. Nuzzo, Lori B. Craig, Anthony J. Siegel and Sharon L. Walsh.

 

The study utilized a double-blind, placebo-controlled design. Participants were given one of 12 possible dose combinations of placebo, tramadol, naltrexone and hydromorphone. Naltrexone is an opioid receptor blocker, used to attenuate the effects of opioid medications. Following drug administration, participants were evaluated based on self-reported measures, observer-reported measures, ocular measurements (such as pupil dilation) and performance tasks. Ten participants completed the study.

 

It was expected that if both tramadol and hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), a common opioid analgesic, acted similarly upon the nervous system, administering naltrexone would mitigate the effects of both drugs in a similar fashion. What was found was that while participants given both hydromorphone and naltrexone reported a lack of influence by the drug, patients taking tramadol and naltrexone reported still feeling "high". Participants who received hydropmorphone or tramadol with placebo also reported feeling affected.

 

"When we've given them placebo and the opioid receptors are not blocked, tramadol and hydromorphone produce fairly similar effects," said Stoops. "They make subjects say that they're high, they make subjects say that they like the drug, those kind of things. Tramadol does produce some bad effects; folks are saying that it makes them a little nauseous so it is a little distinct from hydromorphone in that manner, which is important. When we gave folks naltrexone, when we blocked those opioid receptors, hydromorphone didn't produce any effects, it was like we'd given them placebo. It completely blocked the effects of hydromorphone because the primary way hydromorphone works is on the opioid receptors in the brain; they're blocked so of course hydoromorphone isn't going to produce an effect. With tramadol, we did not see anywhere near the blockaded effect that we saw with hydromorphone. We need to test a  higher naltrexone dose to confirm that this is the case."

 

The overall results of the study indicated that on measures such as "liking" and "street value," participants rated tramadol highly, suggesting an increased potential for abuse. However, in order to reach these favorable ratings, participants had to take doses well above the normal therapeutic range, and into a range which also produced several negative side effects such as gastrointestinal illness, vomiting and feeling unwell.

 

"The important thing about this is I think we all assumed that any abuse of tramadol or any abuse potential tramadol had was because of the way it activated the opioid receptors in the brain and that may not be the case," said Stoops "It's pretty well accepted that with opioid drugs like oxycodone, hydromorphone and hydrocodone, when you block the opioid receptors in the brain, folks aren't going to abuse the drug. That is not the case for tramadol. Opioid receptors are important in tramadol use and abuse, but they appear to not be the entire story."

 

 

 

 

See the embedded video to hear Stoops describe the study and results in his own words.

medfrd0337.jpg
October
 
 
 
1
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Dallas Buyers Club
College of Law Welcomes Trevor Potter
Wed
2
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Notes on Marie Menken
LNFS Presents: Edge of Tomorrow
UK Jazz Ensemble/ UK Lab Band
Earth & Environmental Science Student Open House
"Nerd Night" Exhibit and Concert
"Anne Braden: Southern Patriot" Film Screening and Discussion
Thu
3
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: My Neighbor Totoro
LNFS Presents: (500) Days of Summer
Men's Soccer vs. Old Dominion
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Alabama
Fri
4
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. South Carolina
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
Swing Dancing!
Sat
5
Dancing at Lughnasa
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
UK Children's Hospital/Birthing Center Annual Perinatal Loss "Walk To Remember"
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Texas A&M
Sun
6
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Resumes and Cover Letters
Mon
7
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Networking and Job Search
UK Choristers
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Stillness in Motion: The Essence of Symmetry - presented by Dr. Carl Lee, Mathematics
Tue
8
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Night of the Living Dead
UK Law Day
Wed
9
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Mark Berry, Guest Percussion Recital
National Depression Screening Day
LNFS Presents: Torch Song Trilogy
Thu
10
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Shut Up and Play the Hits
LNFS Presents: Watchmen
KLJ Data Privacy Symposium
Family Weekend Check-in
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #1
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. South Carolina
Family Weekend: Derek Hughes
Fri
11
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. ULM
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK International Tent/ Tailgate Party
CT Surgery Symposium: Advances in the Surgical Management of Cardiothoracic Diseases:
Family Weekend Tent Party
Sat
12
Dancing at Lughnasa
DNT 101: A Taste of the Kentucky Doughnut Trail
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #2
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Auburn
Sunday Lunch at Historic Spindletop Hall
Men's Soccer vs. Marshall
Sun
13
 
Mon
14
Job Club - Social Media and Your Career
Massage on the Go
Tue
15
LNFS Presents: The Last Samurai
UK Symphony Band Concert
Women's Forum Conference 2014
#TrendingTopics: Pornography vs. Morality
Wed
16
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: The Tree of Life
LNFS Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy
UK Wind Symphony
Thu
17
LNFS Presents: Princess Mononoke
LNFS Presents: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Ole Miss
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
Fri
18
Paint the Town Blue
Free Kaplan Entrance Practice Exams
4th Annual Big Blue Soccer Tournament
Men's Soccer vs. New Mexico
Swing Dancing and Costumes?
Sat
19
Paint the Town Blue
UK Men's Chorus and acoUstiKats
Jazz Spectacular
UK Student Pajama Party
Kentucky Volleyball vs. LSU
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Florida
Sun
20
Paint the Town Blue
Midterm of 2014 Fall Semester
Returning to Work and Breastfeeding
Open Access Week Kickoff Event (Webcast)
Grad School 101
Royalty Showcase
Mon
21
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Preparing for Law School
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Grad School Panel: Surviving Your 1st Year
Film & Panel Discussion: Be Like Others
Graduate and Professional School Showcase
Your Publication, Your Choice: Choosing the Right Open Access Journal
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Kitty Karnival
Tue
22
Study Tips for Medical School
LNFS Presents: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Thank-A-Donor Day
Campus Sustainability Day
Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Information Session
Getting Into Medical School
Wed
23
Writing a Winning Personal Statement
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Marimbas From Hell
LNFS Presents: The Fault in Our Stars
Generation Open: Researchers' Roles in the Age of Openness
Homecoming Street Fair
Thu
24
LNFS Presents: Kiki's Delivery Service
LNFS Presents: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
"see blue." Day at Keeneland
Peanut Butter Drive
Pumpkin Carving Tournament
Fri
25
Kentucky Football vs. Mississippi State
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Sat
26
UK Women's Choir and Paws and Listen
Bill Cooper Faculty Recital
What Makes You "YOU: with Brett T. Spear
Sun
27
UK Trumpet Ensemble
Undergraduate Research Information Session "How to Find A Mentor"
Kentucky Men's Basketball Blue/White Scrimmage
Mon
28
Job Club - How To Get A Job at UK: Updates on IES Applicant Tracking System
Common Reading Experience Author Lecture: Presenting Ishmael Beah
Screening of the documentary Teached
Tue
29
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: The Shining
Pinterest Party
UK Lab Safety Fair
Leadership Assessment
"see boo." Halloween Party
Society for the Promotion of Undergraduate Research (SPUR) Meeting
#UKEDTALKS: Design Thinking with Dr. John Nash
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Tennessee
Wed
30
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Lucy
Film Viewing and Discussion of The Other Boleyn Girl
LNFS Presents: Papirosen
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Alabama
Thu
31
LNFS Presents: ParaNorman
LNFS Presents: Carrie
All Hallow's Eve Concert (UK Symphony Orchestra)
Work-Life Retirement Conference
PEIK Seminar: Jim Rogers
Fri
 
Oct 30
Career Assessment Workshop 10/30/2014
Reset Page