First Advisor

Ashley Fricks-Gleason


Dr. Erin Winterrowd


Regis College

Degree Name



Regis University

Department (optional)


Document Type

Thesis - Restricted Campus Access

Number of Pages

62 pages


The opioid epidemic has run rampant in the United States for three decades. This is attributed to the misuse of prescription opioids, like OxyContin, and the creation of cheap synthetic drugs, like fentanyl. The US healthcare system and treatment for chronic pain relies on opioid-based medications, which has only come to prolong and exacerbate the opioid crisis. Opioids are highly addictive drugs that pose the risk of addiction in many individuals. Not everyone who uses opioids will become addicted, but factors, such as presence of sleep disturbances and sex differences, affect the likelihood of a chronic opioid user developing an addiction. Sex differences in opioid use disorder must be considered when examining potential treatment options, how drugs effect the brain, and how it effects the course of the opioid epidemic. Exploring the link between sex differences, sleep disturbances, and opioid use will help us discover more effective treatment plans, explain the behavior patterns of people with addictions, and end the stigmatization of addiction. Treating patients with a holistic approach and looking for ways to treat the patient and not the disorder will increase retention rate of opioid use disorder therapy, decrease sleep disturbances, treat chronic pain without opioids, and stop the epidemic.

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Location (Creation)

Colorado (state); Denver (county); Denver (inhabited place)