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Alcohol & Other Drugs

Learn About Opioids Reference List

Author: Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research


The list below provides the references to the research studies discussed in Learn About Opioids. The references are arranged according to the relevant section where the research is mentioned. Within each section, pertinent sentences are listed in the order they appear in the information sheet. Materials may be accessed through your local library.

What happens when we use heroin?

Drug-induced comas increase the risk of negative effects on the brain:

Cunha-Oliveira, T., Rego, A. C., & Oliveira, C. R. (2008). Cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the neurotoxicity of opioid and psychostimulant drugs. Brain Research Reviews, 58(1), 192–208.

Warner-Smith, M., Darke, S., Lynskey, M., & Hall, W. (2001). Heroin overdose: Causes and consequences. Addiction, 96(8), 1113–25.

Büttner, A., Mall, G., Penning, R., & Weis, S. (2000). The neuropathology of heroin abuse. Forensic Science International, 113(1-3), 435–42.

Pain itself may impact our ability to remember and learn things:

Kendal, S. E., Sjøgren, P., Andrucioli de Mattos Pimenta, C., Højsted, J., & Kurita, G. P. (2010). The cognitive effects of opioids in chronic non-cancer pain. Pain, 150(2), 225–230.

Ersek, M., Cherrier, M. M., Overman, S. S., & Irving, G. A. (2004). The cognitive effects of opioids. Pain Management Nursing, 5(2), 75–93.

Regular use of opioids is linked with a decline in cognitive functions:

Biernacki, K., Mclennan, S. N., Terrett, G., Labuschagne, I., & Rendell, P. G. (2016). Decision-making ability in current and past users of opiates: A meta-analysis. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 71, 342–351.

Baldacchino, A., Balfour, D. J. K., Passetti, F., Humphris, G., & Matthews, K. (2012). Neuropsychological consequences of chronic opioid use: A quantitative review and meta-analysis. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 36(9), 2056–2068.

Janke van Holst, R., & Schilt, T. (2011). Drug-related decrease in neuropsychological functions of abstinent drug users. Current Drug Abuse Reviews, 4(1), 42–56.

Verdejo-García, A., López-Torrecillas, F., Giménez, C. O., & Pérez-García, M. (2004). Clinical implications and methodological challenges in the study of the neuropsychological correlates of cannabis, stimulant, and opioid abuse. Neuropsychology Review, 14(1), 1–41.

When is using opioids a problem?

If we share needles or straws, we increase our risk of infections and blood-borne diseases:

Chan, J. (2014). Hepatitis C. Disease-a-Month, 60(5), 201–12.

Staitieh, B., & Guidot, D. M. (2014). Noninfectious pulmonary complications of Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection. American Journal of Medical Sciences, 348(6), 502–511.

Hou, W., Fu, J., Ge, Y., Du, J., & Hua, S. (2013). Incidence and risk of lung cancer in HIV-infected patients. Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology, 139(11), 1781–94.

Islam, F. M., Wu, J., Jansson, J., & Wilson, D. P. (2012). Relative risk of cardiovascular disease among people living with HIV: A systematic review and meta-analysis. HIV Medicine, 13(8), 453–68.

Pouget, E. R., Hagan, H., & Des Jarlais, D. C. (2012). Meta-analysis of hepatitis C seroconversion in relation to shared syringes and drug preparation equipment. Addiction, 107(6), 1057–65.

Roed, T., Lebech, A. M., Kjaer, A., & Weis, N. (2012). Hepatitis C virus infection and risk of coronary artery disease: A systematic review of the literature. Clinical Physiology and Functional Imaging, 32(6), 421–30.

Caiaffa, W. T., Zocratto, K. F., Osimani, M. L., Martínez, P. L., Radulich, G., Latorre, L., et al., (2011). Hepatitis C virus among non-injecting cocaine users (NICUs) in South America: Can injectors be a bridge? Addiction, 106(1), 143–51.

Price, J. C., & Thio, C. L. (2010). Liver disease in the HIV-infected individual. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 8(12), 1002–12.

Fischer, B., Powis, J., Firestone Cruz, M., Rudzinski, K., & Rehm, J. (2008). Hepatitis C virus transmission among oral crack users: Viral detection on crack paraphernalia. European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 20(1), 29–32.

Monto, A., Ma, S. C., Wright, T. L., & Wright, T. L. (2008). Liver disease in injection drug users with Hepatitis C , with and without HIV coinfection. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 27(2), 49–59.

Scheinmann, R., Hagan, H., Lelutiu-Weinberger, C., Stern, R., Des Jarlais, D. C., Flom, P. L., et al., (2007). Non-injection drug use and Hepatitis C Virus: A systematic review. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 89(1), 1–12.

Moorman, J., Saad, M., Kosseifi, S., & Krishnaswamy, G. (2005). Hepatitis C Virus and the lung: Implications for therapy. Chest, 128, 2882–92.

If we develop tolerance to an opioid and stop using it, our tolerance is reduced:

Warner-Smith, M., Darke, S., Lynskey, M., & Hall, W. (2001). Heroin overdose: Causes and consequences. Addiction, 96(8), 1113–25.

If we use opioids regularly, we can develop another type of problem—dependence:

Darke, S. (2013). Pathways to heroin dependence: Time to re-appraise self-medication. Addiction, 108(4), 659–67.

Helzer, J. E. (2010). Significance of the Robins et al. Vietnam veterans study. American Journal on Addictions, 19(3), 218–21.

Noble, M., Treadwell, J.R., Treagear, S.J., Coates, V.H., Wiffen, P.J., Akafomo, C., et. al. (2010). Long-term opioid management for chronic noncancer pain. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, i.

Fishbain, D. A., Cole, B., Lewis, J., Rosomoff, H. L., & Rosomoff, R. S. (2008). What percentage of chronic nonmalignant pain patients exposed to chronic opioid analgesic therapy develop abuse/addiction and/or aberrant drug-related behaviors: A structured evidence-based review. Pain Medicine, 9(4), 444–459.

Coomber, R., & Sutton, C. (2006). How quick to heroin dependence? Drug and Alcohol Review, 25(5), 463–71.

Shewan, D., & Dalgarno, P. (2005). Evidence for controlled heroin use: Low levels of negative health and social outcomes among non-treatment heroin users in Glasgow (Scotland). British Journal of Health Psychology, 10(Pt 1), 33–48.


About the author

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The Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, formerly CARBC, is a member of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Substance Use Information. The institute is dedicated to the study of substance use in support of community-wide efforts aimed at providing all people with access to healthier lives, whether using substances or not. For more, visit


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