Psychoactive properties of opioids and the experience of pain

Categories: Research.

Taking into account the generally accepted view in hospice and palliative care that people who are in severe pain do not experience the psychoactive effects of opioids, Dr Connor shares his first-hand experience of taking morphine for pain relief. He contrasts the experience of the medication effects both while he was in pain, and once the pain had subsided.

He notes that while in severe pain the morphine allowed him to “separate (him)self from the excruciating experience of the pain,” and yet it did not produce any psychoactive effects. He says: “there was no euphoria or any sense of pleasure.”

He goes on to report that once the pain had subsided, he did in fact start to experience the effects of morphine as a psychoactive drug. He notes that he had no desire to repeat the experience.

Throughout the world, medical professionals avoid prescribing opioids for fear that their patient will turn into an addict. This ‘opiophobia’, along with excessive drug control laws, contributes to the tragic situation whereby over 80% of the world’s population does not have access to opioid pain relief.

Through this letter, Dr Connor calls for “research on this important but neglected topic and to help demythologize and improve access to opioids for those in pain.”

He calls for “more rigorous research that effectively demonstrates what we see every day clinically: that our palliative patients in moderate-to-severe pain, when started on an opioid, only experience relief of their pain.”

JPSM will allow free downloading of this piece until March 18th. You can access it through the JPSM website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *