The opioid epidemic: A central role for the blood brain barrier in opioid analgesia and abuse

Charles P. Schaefer, Margaret E Tome, Thomas P Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

9 Scopus citations


Opioids are currently the primary treatment method used to manage both acute and chronic pain. In the past two to three decades, there has been a surge in the use, abuse and misuse of opioids. The mechanism by which opioids relieve pain and induce euphoria is dependent on the drug crossing the blood-brain barrier and accessing the central nervous system. This suggests the blood brain barrier plays a central role in both the benefits and risks of opioid use. The complex physiological responses to opioids that provide the benefits and drive the abuse also needs to be considered in the resolution of the opioid epidemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number32
JournalFluids and Barriers of the CNS
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 29 2017



  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Morphine
  • Opioid tolerance
  • Opioids
  • P-Glycoprotein
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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