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Opioids and Explain Pain

By David Butler Pain awareness 15 Dec 2016


I have just finished teaching Explain Pain 3 (EP3) seminars in the United States with Lorimer Moseley and Mark Jensen – many thanks for the enthusiastic support from the US for what more than one participant referred to as ‘countercultural’ material – notions of education as therapy, self treatment, alternatives to medication  and minimising treatment are certainly not mainstream.


As I left Seattle, the conference manager, who had become quite interested in the material present passed me recent data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid deaths had passed 30,000 in 2015 and the recent heroin boom increased further with ongoing attempts at restricting traditional opioids. For the first time, there were more heroin deaths than gun homicides.


A sobering end to my trip. Maybe crisis will evoke change?

-David Butler




  1. David,

    I would say that there’s nothing that will actually change. Have you noticed the shift in any acknowledgement of the scientific method? By the way, laxatives are already being touted for opioid use.

    In my estimation, the battle is already over. The absence of any use of “pain science” began this.

    Barrett L. Dorko PT

  2. Tough post!

    I suspect until we humans, en masse, start to better understand ourselves and what drives our behaviour, substantial change in such a context may well be very difficult. Having said that, there are countries around the world which deal with these issues arguably far better than others. So are there any reasons why we can’t learn from them ?

    For anyone interested in further reading who hasn’t attended the NOI courses, two articles I have found particularly useful in starting to understand such issue/s (Full text links provided);

    1. Berridge K. Motivational concepts in behavioural neuroscience. Physiology & Behavior 81 (2004) 179–209.

    2. White JM. Pleasure into pain: Common brain mechanisms of pain and addiction. Addictive Behaviors 29 (2004) 1311–1324.

    For those who are really keen, a very interesting and thorough addition to the field which I found in my stash;
    3.Elman I, Borsook D. Common Brain Mechanisms of Chronic Pain and Addiction. Neuron. 2016 Jan 6;89(1):11-36.
    Anyone fancy providing a critique of the most recent paper


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