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Opioids: From Physical Pain to the Pain of Social Isolation

  • Dan J. Stein, Jack van Honk, Jonathan Ipser, Mark Solms and Jaak Panksepp...

Abstract

The opioid systems play an important role in mediating both physical pain and negative affects (eg, the pain of social isolation). From an evolutionary perspective, it is not surprising that the neurocircuitry and neurochemistry of physical pain would overlap with that involved in complex social emotions. Exposure to trauma as well as a range of gene variants in the opioid system may be associated with alterations in opioid systems function, with changes in reward processing, and with vulnerability to substance abuse. A role for interventions with opioid agents in depression and anxiety disorders has been suggested.

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