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Heightened Pain Sensitivity in Heroin-Dependent Adults Not Lessened by Treatment

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Heroin-dependent adults are more sensitive to pain than people who do not use illicit drugs, according to a new study that finds their sensitivity does not decrease even when they are treated with methadone or buprenorphine.

The researchers from University of California Los Angeles assessed 82 adults, who sought treatment for heroin addiction, and were given either methadone or buprenorphine. Their pain responses were compared to those of people who did not use illicit drugs. Pain response was measured using electrical stimulation, and a test in which a hand is placed in ice cold water, according to HealthDay.

They found no significant changes in pain response among people taking methadone or buprenorphine for maintenance therapy. The researchers recommend that doctors consider the potential impact of opioid-induced pain sensitivity associated with opiate addiction disorders when they are treating patients who use opioids, either legitimately or illicitly.

The results are published in The Journal of Pain.

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