Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 26  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 544--547

Chronic noncancer pain and opioid addiction: Diagnostic and management challenges

1 Department of Psychiatry, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
2 Department of Onco-Anaesthesis, Pain and Palliative Care, IRCH, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Ravindra Rao
4096, Department of Psychiatry, 4th Floor, Teaching Block, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi - 110 029
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJPC.IJPC_232_19

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Chronic pain is associated with higher rates of psychiatric comorbidity, including substance use disorders. Patients with chronic pain often require opioids for their pain relief. Often, clinicians are reluctant to prescribe opioids to patients with chronic pain due to fear of patients becoming dependent on opioids. Diagnosing opioid addiction in chronic pain with comorbid prescription opioid use is challenging, as some of the symptoms of addiction overlap with those of physical dependence. A 28-year-old female presented with a history of recurrent abdominal pain beginning at the age of 16 years. The patient was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis and was prescribed tramadol orally or injections for pain. The patient started experiencing craving with repeated administration of tramadol. She started using it daily and increased her dose to about 6–7 ampoules per day. She also developed complications due to injections. She was not able to work due to her pain, as well as injection use. She would go to multiple chemist shops for getting herself injected with tramadol injections. She also developed depressive symptoms in this period. Due to abdominal pain, the patient was admitted in the gastroenterology ward, from where she was shifted to the psychiatry ward for the management of opioid misuse and depressive symptoms. The patient was diagnosed to be suffering from opioid dependence syndrome with depressive episodes, for which she was provided tablet buprenorphine 14 mg/day dose along with tablet sertraline 150 mg/day. The case demonstrates several challenges in the diagnosis and management of opioid dependence and chronic pain when they occur simultaneously.


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