Exploring Effects of Simultaneous Opioid, Psychedelic Use for Chronic Pain

September 15, 2023 13:44:11

Recent research investigating the interaction between psychedelics and opioids has found that using the two together to treat chronic pain may not be a good idea. Opioids have been the go-to treatment for pain disorders for a long time, but they have lost popularity over the past decade, especially as the public became increasingly aware of their side effects amid a deadly opioid crisis.

As a wave of drug reform swept across the country, cannabis emerged as one of the most popular alternative treatments for chronic pain because it is generally safer to use and doesn’t have side effects such as respiratory depression, addiction and physical dependence.

With more than 20 states now allowing marijuana for medical use, lawmakers in several states are working to advance psychedelic legislation and legalize psychedelic-assisted therapies. Most of the ongoing research on psychedelics has found that they can be effective at alleviating a myriad of hard-to-treat conditions, especially when paired with traditional talk therapy.  Some research has also found that psychedelics may relieve chronic pain while boosting functionality and improving the quality of life in patients with chronic pain.

With this in mind, some people may think taking psychedelics along with opioids to treat chronic pain will grant them the best of both worlds, allowing them to alleviate their pain and improve their well-being all in one go. However, the study on psychedelic-opioid interactions found that this may have unintended consequences based on the doses and type of opioids and psychedelics consumed.

Researchers using mouse models discovered that low opioid doses could dampen the pain-relieving effects of LSD and DMT while larger doses made them more effective. In some cases, mixing opioids and psychedelics for chronic pain could potentially result in an opioid overdose that, if left untreated, could cause the patient to fall into a coma, suffer brain damage and even die.

Such cases call for immediate medical intervention to prevent the affected individual from suffering any permanent damage or dying. Symptoms of a potential overdose after mixing opioids and psychedelics to treat chronic pain include confusion, vomiting, slowed heartbeat, pale, discolored lips and skin, trouble breathing and loss of consciousness.

Mixing the two types of drugs can also result in respiratory system and central nervous system depression. Although there is some evidence pointing to psychedelics as potential chronic pain treatments, taking them with opioids seems to have more risks than benefits.

Ensure you follow your doctor’s opioid prescription carefully and avoid taking your painkillers with any other substances to prevent deadly or even fatal interactions.

Given that many people are currently self-prescribing psychedelics, it is paramount that psychedelics companies such as atai Life Sciences N.V. (NASDAQ: ATAI) expedite their drug-development programs so that those in need can access safe psychedelic treatments approved by the FDA. This will minimize adverse events since the psychedelics will be used in accordance to doctors’ orders.

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