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    Reader Response

    A Letter to the Editor about our recent article on opioid addiction.

    Dear Editor,

    I recently read your April 2017 article “Addiction Risks Rise after Day Three of an Opioid Prescription” and would like to comment on the use of the word “Addiction”. Nowhere in the source document by Shah, Hayes, and Martin was it proven that the risk of addiction was the result of higher number of days supply. What was proven that the patients a year later were taking a long-acting opioid. This should be characterized by terms other than addiction.

    Addiction is a condition characterized by use of products for other than the intended purpose, and when the focus of the user is on the acquiring and use of the product, not the relief of pain. The hallmarks of addiction are dysfunctional emotional responses, problems with interpersonal relationships, craving and repeated risky behaviors the impair perception and health. Even the word dependency does not carefully craft the terms for what the authors learned in their research.

    Please see the definition of addiction per the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

    Too often patients who receive chronic pain therapy are characterized as addicted or drug seeking. This characterization often gets in the way of listening to the patient, finding solutions for the cause of the pain which in turn, can lead to frustration and depression.

    Using the word addiction in your headline continues that misconception that addiction and the continued use of opioids a year later are the same. This connection was not proven in this study nor will you find this in the professional literature. You were off the mark in your description and it has the potential of being misquoted for the purposes of supporting superficial policies that limit quantities without addressing the individual patient needs.

    Stephanie Porto, PharmD
    Lawrence Memorial Hospital
    Lawrence Kansas


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