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Pain Manag. 2011 May;1(3):239-48. doi: 10.2217/pmt.11.12.

Pseudoaddiction revisited: a commentary on clinical and historical considerations.

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Pain Treatment Center of the Bluegrass, 2416 Regency Road, Lexington, KY 40503, USA.


SUMMARY The term 'pseudoaddiction' has been in the pain management lexicon for two decades. Over this time, pain management has changed significantly - in no small part as a result of a landmark publication by Weissman and Haddox in 1989. The original paper, which describes the experience of a single case study in which a young inpatient with cancer became sullen and difficult when left in uncontrolled pain, is reviewed. It is time for a critical re-examination of the concept, its use and its influence on the pain literature, and finally, how it should be applied today. A commentary is offered along with a brief literature review to determine the presence of pseudoaddiction in published literature. Arriving in the literature at a time when the application of opioid therapy to non-malignant pain was being seriously considered, based on principles borrowed from the cancer pain experience, its impact on the way in which patients' behaviors on opioids are to be interpreted has been profound. The fact that problematic drug-related behavior can be driven by uncontrolled pain and extinguished with adequate pain control became a fundamental rule of opioid therapy. This led to practices such as escalating doses in the face of noncompliance and has been extended to include behaviors unintended by the original authors (e.g., excusing the use of marijuana for pain or symptom control while on opioids for non-malignant pain).


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