What are opioids used for when they're being used properly?

Video Length: 0:59

[Camille Schrier speaking]  What are opioids used for when they’re used properly?

[Nora Volkow speaking]  Opioids can lifesaving, particularly in circumstances of acute, severe pain. So, if you have a myocardial infarct, the pain has been so bad that if you don’t treat it, the patient may lose consciousness.

I was in a horrible car accident and I recall the pain was so incredibly intense, but I wouldn’t lose consciousness. And then they gave me an opioid and the world changed. So, when you are in those circumstances where you need to manage the pain in order to provide actually further cure to the patient, opioids are lifesaving.

The problem becomes when people start to rely on opioids for management of moderate to mild pain conditions, or when they use it for long periods of time, where opioids are not so useful because you become tolerant to them.