A new study, conducted at the University of Minnesota Medical School, may help put the brakes on the ever-growing opioid epidemic. Dr. Erin Krebs, the primary researcher, set up the Strategies for Prescribing Analgesics Comparative Effectiveness (SPACE) trial to see how opioids compare to non-opioid medications in a practical setting.

To be eligible for the study, patients had to have been experiencing chronic pain while also being on an analgesic drug. That being said, patients could not already be using a prescribed opioid for chronic pain. Patients were then randomly placed into two groups. In the first group, patients would be prescribed an opioid medication, whereas in the second group, they would be prescribed a non-opioid alternative medication. 

After following 240 patients for 12 months, Dr. Krebs was able to see that there was no difference between the two groups in regards to how much pain affected the participants' daily lives. In short, non-opioid medications did just as well at relieving pain as opioids did.