Drug abuse, dependence, and addiction in chronic pain patients

Clin J Pain. 1992 Jun;8(2):77-85. doi: 10.1097/00002508-199206000-00003.


It is claimed that a significant percentage of chronic pain patients suffer from drug/alcohol abuse/dependency/addiction. To address this question, 24 articles alluding to chronic pain patient drug/alcohol dependence/addiction were reviewed according to the following criteria: method for drug misuse diagnosis, which drug misuse diagnosis used (abuse, dependence, or addiction), and percentage of patients within each diagnostic category of drug misuse. The result of the review indicated that only seven studies utilized acceptable diagnostic criteria and/or definitions for the drug misuse diagnoses and gave percentages of drug misuse. Within these seven studies, the prevalence percentages for the diagnoses for drug abuse, drug dependence, and drug addiction were in the range of 3.2-18.9%. It is concluded that these diagnoses occur in a significant percentage of chronic pain patients. However, there is little evidence in these studies that addictive behaviors are common within the chronic pain population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*