Opioids and Pain Relief:

A Historical Perspective


Progress in Pain Research and Management, Volume 25

Editor: Marcia L. Meldrum, PhD

2003  :  hardbound :  222 pages  :  ISBN 0-931092-47-7  :  US$68.00  (IASP members US$51.00) 

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Opioid use for the alleviation of pain can prove problematic. Differing opinions within the medical community arise from the dual nature of these drugs. Despite universal recognition of the potent analgesic effects of opioids, many health care providers are reluctant to employ them - especially for chronic pain - due to the risk for addiction. Ample literature exists for opioid addiction, yet this volume stands alone in its examination of the history of opioid use for pain relief. It presents a balanced view of the topic by discussing both the benefits and risks of opioid use in pain treatment.

International experts from the pain field examine from a historical perspective International experts from the pain field examine from a historical perspective the beneficial and detrimental consequences of opioid use in pain management. From medieval times to the Victorian era to the 21st century, these specialists offer unprecedented insights into understanding and appreciating the usefulness of these drugs. They remove the mythological shrouds surrounding opioid use and they identify objective criteria for incorporating opioids into pain treatment protocols. This volume enlightens and informs readers so that they may broaden and deepen their understanding of the subject.

Table of Contents

1. Opiophobia and Opiophilia. John D. Loeser

2. To Market, to Market: The Theory and Practice of Opiates in the Middle Ages. Walton O. Schalick III

3. "The Grandest Badge of His Art": Three Victorian Doctors, Pain Relief, and the Art of Medicine. Martha Stoddard Holmes

4. Take as Directed: The Dilemmas of Regulating Addictive Analgesics and Other Psychoactive Drugs. Caroline J. Acker

5. Analgesic Research at the National Institutes of Health: State of the Art 1930s to the Present. Kenner C. Rice

6. The Rise and Demise of the Brompton Cocktail. David Clark

7. The Dawn of Endorphins. Huda Akil

8. Taking the Myths out of the Magic: Establishing the Use of Opioids in the Management of Cancer Pain. Christina Faull and Alexander Nicholson

9. The Opiate Receptor: Scientific Treasure Trove. Marcia L. Meldrum

10. History of the Development of Pain Management with Spinal Opioid and Non-Opioid Drugs. Michael J. Cousins

11. The World Health Organization Cancer Pain Relief Program. Mark Swerdlow

12. The State Cancer Pain Initiative Movement in the United States: Successes and Challenges. June L. Dahl

13. Opioids, Cancer Pain, Quality of Life, and Quality of Death: Patient Narratives and a Clinician’s Comments. Nessa Coyle

14. The Property of Euphoria: Research and the Cancer Patient. Marcia L. Meldrum


...This book will appeal to two distinct audiences: those interested in the history of medical science and those interested in the management and treatment of pain. It is not a comprehensive history of pain, but rather a comprehensive history of the use of opioids to treat pain. ...Writing in this book is at a high level - the contributors are historians and sociologists who are also skilled writers. The stories surrounding the opioid drugs are fascinating and this book nicely documents the long history of a controversial class of drugs. Doody's Notes

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This page was updated on January 28, 2004