Cocaine addiction: from habits to stereotypical-repetitive behaviors and punding

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2008 Jul 1;96(1-2):178-82. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2008.02.005. Epub 2008 Apr 18.


"Punding" is a stereotypical motor behavior characterized by an intense fascination with repetitive handling and examining of objects. Since its first description in amphetamine and cocaine addicts, data on punding has only derived from studies performed in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). Punding is classifiable as the most severe form of Repetitive Reward-Seeking Behaviours (RRSB) syndromes. The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence and phenomelogy of RRSB acutely induced by cocaine in order to determine the prevalence, severity and distinctive features discriminating "punders" from "non-punders". A consecutive sample of 50 cocaine addicts received a clinical psychiatric interview. RRSB diagnosis and severity were assessed using a modified version of a previous published questionnaire designed to identify punding in patients with PD. In the present series, 38% of the cocaine addicts met the proposed diagnostic criteria for a RRSB and 8% were considered punders. Subjects with vs. without RRSB did not differ in terms of sex ratio, age, education, occupation, predisposing habits, duration of cocaine use, hours of sleep, comorbid psychiatric disorders, and concomitant use of other drugs. These results and the observation that in the majority of cases RRSB started soon after first drug intake, strongly suggest that an underlying unknown predisposition led to the development of these behaviors. In conclusion, RRSB and punding is much more common than has been described previously and the resultant social disability is often overlooked.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Behavior, Addictive / diagnosis
  • Behavior, Addictive / epidemiology
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Cocaine / adverse effects*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / diagnosis
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Habits*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis
  • Personality Disorders / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Factors
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Social Adjustment
  • Stereotypic Movement Disorder / chemically induced*
  • Stereotypic Movement Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Stereotypic Movement Disorder / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Cocaine