Dr. Declan Barry, Research Director at the APT Foundation, led a Community Forum to survey what science has revealed about the intersections of pain and substance use. Our lively discussion covered how innovative clinical practices at APT have assisted these findings, and how APT advocates for accelerated access to treatment that works.

1:40 APT Foundation origins as a research center

1:58 The “face” of the opioid epidemic

2:40 The role of opioids in addressing chronic pain

4:15 Introduction to APT’s research team

4:50 History of pain treatment services at the APT Foundation

7:00 What is chronic pain? 

10:30 Results of early need assessment studies

11:40 Prevalence of back pain and co-occurring trauma, stress, and clinical vulnerabilities

16:50 Physicians’ experience treating people with chronic pain 

19:30 Trends in treatment for chronic pain 

21:20 Cross-cultural attitudes to chronic pain

22:20 Recommendation to stay active

23:20 The role of interdisciplinary clinics 

24:15 Treatment puzzles and success with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

26:30 Group treatments as a business model for clinics 

27:35 Non-pharmacological interventions that increase pleasure 

29:10 Acute improvement reported in response to certain interventions

30:30 Collaboration Linking Opioid Use Disorder and Sleep (CLOUD Study) 

32:20 Training for front line clinicians 

40:30 Treating the isolation that often occurs alongside chronic pain

45:00 Insurance considerations

Q: Is a patient’s experience of pain visible on brain scans? A: Yes, but it’s unlikely to yield a magic bullet. 

Q: How do you help people manage their pain better? A: Taking small steps, celebrating each win, and seeking out overlapping benefits of movement, social interaction, and the therapeutic alliance between clinician and patient. 

Q: How do you manage the side effects of long-term treatments? A: Sticking with the safest options can mean changing up treatment over time. Non-pharmacological approaches help the medication work better. They’re not either-or. 

Q: What’s next on the leading edge of this research? A: We are very interested in studying the sleep patterns in this population and targeting interventions to improve sleep with the benefit of reducing the perception of pain.