Tablets and drugs

Pain and Addictions 

The WHO Global Burden of Disease study puts chronic painful conditions, like low back pain and headache disorders, among the five most burdensome worldwide.

Traditional analgesics offer inadequate relief and can have significant side effects. This has also contributed to the opioid crisis affecting about 1.7 million Americans.

Substance use adds further global burden; in the UK, smoking, alcohol, and illicit drug use account for 25% of deaths and 13% of years lived with disability.   

Pain and addictions are influenced by a myriad of factors that range from biological to psychological to social. They both require an integrated approach that considers the use of drugs, behavioural treatments, alongside work to provide an evidence base to policymakers to ensure that these treatments reach the people who need them. 

In our theme we have combined expertise from different disciplines and specialities to enable an integrated mind-body approach to lessening the negative impacts in pain and addictions.

Our experimental medicine research has led to new classes of drugs which are now licenced for the prevention and treatment of migraine and cluster headaches and can be used at scale.

Our work in substance use has led to the development of approaches such as Take Home Naloxone which provides an antidote for opioid overdose to people in the community.

We continue to refine our understanding of these conditions and explore new treatment options informed by contemporary measures of behaviour and neuroimaging of pain, mood and sleep circuits. 

Through our experimental approaches we are studying opioid overdose in the laboratory and extending this work to the development and testing of wearable overdose sensors.

At the heart of our work is the improvement of our understanding of the mechanisms to underpin treatments to optimise their delivery. 

Professor Peter Goadsby

Theme Lead

Professor of Neurology, King's IoPPN; Director of NIHR / Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility
Professor Sir John Strang

Deputy Theme Lead

Head of Department for the Addictions, King's IoPPN; Academic Leader of the Addictions Clinical Academic Group within the KHP AHSC.
Dr Jan Hoffman

Deputy Theme Lead

Clinical Reader in Neurology, King's IoPPN
Research and news

Pain and Addictions news

Read about our latest research, news stories and blogs in this theme.


Stories of Research

Discover how our research is making a difference to people’s lives, today and tomorrow.

Stories of Research

Emergency naloxone to reverse heroin overdose

Making take-home naloxone more available through development of nasal spray, and training.
Stories of Research

Helping migraine sufferers with new drugs

We have identified proteins released during migraine attacks and developed drug treatments approved internationally.
Stories of Research

Measuring recovery from alcohol/drug dependence

The SURE app was co-developed with patients and aims to define recovery and guide users through their own recovery.
Stories of Research

Vagus nerve stimulation to treat cluster headaches

Development of non-invasive neuromodulation therapy, which is now available on the NHS.