Light — not pain-killing drugs — used to activate brain’s opioid receptors

Washington University School of Medicine neuroscientists, led by Michael R. Bruchas, PhD, assistant professor of anesthesiology and of neurobiology, have attached the light-sensing protein rhodopsin to opioid receptor parts to activate the receptor pathways using light from a laser fiber-optic device. They also influenced the behavior of mice using light, rather than drugs, to activate the reward response.

Drug users switch to heroin because it’s cheap, easy to get

A nationwide survey of heroin users indicates they are attracted to the drug not only for the “high” but because it is less expensive and easier to get than prescription painkillers. Shown is the study’s principal investigator, Theodore J. Cicero, PhD, of the School of Medicine.

Among prescription painkillers, drug abusers prefer oxycodone

A nationwide survey of opioid drug abusers in rehab indicates that because of the high it produces, the prescription painkiller oxycodone is the most popular drug of choice. Hydrocodone, also prescribed to treat pain, is next in line. In all, some 75 percent of those surveyed rated one of these drugs as their favorite.