Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences




The use of opioid medications is a rapidly growing problem in the United States. Although these medications are effective for short term pain relief, their long-term implications on the brain and interactions with other substances are still unknown. Despite the gaps in knowledge of the long-term implications or efficacy of opioids, there are still more than 200 million prescriptions written annually for opioid analgesics (Semenkovich et al., 2014). In addition to the overuse of these medications, they can cause interactions with other substances, some of which can cause severe cases of poly-intoxication. As the use of these medications continues to increase, so does the number of deaths that result from the misuse of these medications. According to the American Medical Association, "after alcohol intoxication, opioids are the most common cause of poisoning in presenting to North American emergency departments" (Lewis et al., 2015). This increase in emergency department usage as a result of opioid-related cases leads to an overall increase in healthcare costs. While researching the longterm effects of opioids on the brain, their interactions with other substances, and potential side effects that can arise from prolonged opioid usage, more concrete options must be considered. Finding effective ways to treat these patients and using alternative methods for pain relief can not only help people in need of pain relief but also our healthcare system as a whole.