An Educational Guide on Opioid Structure, Function, and Their Impact on Public Health for Undergraduate Science Majors




Glinche, Peyton

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The opioid epidemic is a public health crisis that the United States has been facing since the 1990s and has continued to worsen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many factors have led to the current state of the opioid epidemic, including inappropriate prescription of opioids, lack of understanding of the potential adverse effects of long-term use, opioid misuse, abuse, and dependence. The key to understanding both the addictive and analgesia qualities of opioids lies in their behavior and function in the human body on a molecular level. This thesis is an educational guide on the opioid epidemic, opioid basics, opioid receptors, and cell signaling pathways, opioid alternatives, and alternative treatments for chronic pain. The purpose of this guide is to educate undergraduate science majors on opioid history, biological function, and proper use versus misuse and how they all have contributed to the current state of the opioid epidemic; awareness and education are crucial steps toward a potential solution.