A Really Hot Idea

by The Discovering Alcoholic on February 20, 2008

Capsaicin is the active component in chili peppers that acts as a deterrent to herbivores. In mammals, especially humans, contact with capsaicin will result in an extreme burning sensation. This is the very reason it is the primary ingredient in most self defense pepper sprays. Clifford Woolf, the Richard J. Kitz Professor of Anesthesia Research at Harvard Medical School, has been working on the novel idea of using capsaicin to prevent the abuse of prescription medication.

Opioid pain medications like Oxycontin or stimulant Adderall are often crushed and snorted by those who wish to “fast forward” the designed time release action of the drug. A capsaicin coating could be developed that permitted safe swallowing and digestion, but if brought in contact with the nasal passages or ingested as a powder would cause extreme discomfort.

“Imagine snorting an extract of 50 jalapeno peppers and you get the idea,” Woolf says. “On a one to 10 scale, the pain is about a thousand. It feels like a mininuclear explosion in your mouth. It does not harm you, but you never want to experience that feeling again.”~ Harvard Gazette

Click “Read more” to continue…

While I am not so naïve to think that this would deter very innovative addicts from abusing these drugs, there are even websites dedicated to the subversion of so called “safe” or “abuse resistant” drugs. However a development like this may save the lives of countless young people who would definitely think twice before experimenting after a medicine cabinet treasure hunt. I had heard this story on the radio recently, but could find only this dated article and a 2006 Wiki entry that mentions development is still planned. If anyone out there comes across a more recent article, please shoot it my way so I can post a follow-up.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: