Introduction: Because of their circulation through the blood, the multiplicity of receptor sites, and the diversity of functions, opioids may most accurately be designated as a hormone. Opioids modulate the intensity of pain. In mammals, the opioid system has been modified to modulate social interactions as well (Panksepp and Watt, 2011).
Methods: Over 10,000 patient encounters were observed on a neuropsychoanalytic addiction medicine service. Cold pressor times (CPT) were recorded before and after stimulation of the opioid system with low-dose naltrexone (LDN) for patients after opioid detoxification and for fibromyalgia patients.
Results: Patients maintained on opioids relate autistically. The cold, unrelated nature of their human interactions was reversed by detoxification from opioids. Fibromyalgia patients have difficulty participating in human relationships, as if they lack an ability to respond interpersonally, as do post-detoxification patients. LDN improved pain tolerance as shown by a significant increase on CPT for post detoxification patients from 16 seconds to 55 seconds and in fibromyalgia patients from 21 seconds to 42 seconds, and improved relatedness. The correlation of opioid prescribing increasing over time and autism prevalence increasing over time is highly significant.
Conclusions: 1. Opioid-maintained patients relate autistically. 2. Autism is a hyperopioidergic disorder. 3. Fibromylagia is a hypoopioidergic disorder. 4. Low opioid tone caused by opioid maintenance or fibromyalgia can usually be reversed with low-dose naltrexone. 5. The increase in the incidence of autism may have been caused by the increase in use of opioids for analgesia during childbirth.