Searching For New Options in Balance Between Painkiller's Help And Abuse

Washington (AP) -- Scientists are hunting for new ways to help millions of pain sufferers. The ideas range from addiction-resistant narcotics to using brain scanners for biofeedback.

There's concern in the medical community about a rise in abuse of today's top prescription painkillers.

The good news: only a tiny fraction of patients who are appropriately prescribed drugs known as opioids, including morphine, vicodin, fentanyl and oxycontin, ever will become dependent on them. And scientists say those few who are vulnerable tend also to suffer such psychiatric disorders as depression and anxiety, giving doctors a clue about which patients need closer monitoring.

Some form of chronic pain affects one of every three or four adults worldwide. The government says one in ten Americans suffers pain that lasts a year or more.

Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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