The relationship between opioid and sugar intake: Review of evidence and clinical applications


  • David J. Mysels, MD, MBA
  • Maria A. Sullivan, MD, PhD



opioid, sugar, weight gain, diabetes, analgesia


Opioid dependence poses significant public health risks arising from associated morbidity and mortality caused by accidents, infectious diseases, and social ramifications of crime and unemployment, among other complications. Opioid use, acute and chronic, is also associated with weight gain, glycemic dysregulation, and dental pathology. The literature supporting the connection between opiate use and development of preference for sweet tastes is reviewed, and further association with dental pathology, weight gain, and loss of glycemic control are considered. Additionally, the impact of sweet tastes on the endogenous opioid system, as pertaining to analgesia, is also discussed. The authors discuss the clinical implications in relation to the aforementioned conditions while treating the opiate-dependent patient.

Author Biographies

David J. Mysels, MD, MBA

Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School, Somerville, Massachusetts; Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Department of Psychiatry, Division of Substance Abuse Research/New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York.

Maria A. Sullivan, MD, PhD

Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Department of Psychiatry, Division of Substance Abuse Research/New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York.


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How to Cite

Mysels, MD, MBA, D. J., and M. A. Sullivan, MD, PhD. “The Relationship Between Opioid and Sugar Intake: Review of Evidence and Clinical Applications”. Journal of Opioid Management, vol. 6, no. 6, Jan. 2018, pp. 445-52, doi:10.5055/jom.2010.0043.



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