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April 9, 1973

Pentazocine Abuse

Author Affiliations

Michigan State University College of Human Medicine East Lansing

JAMA. 1973;224(2):249. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220150057028

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To the Editor.—  Established case examples of pentazocine abuse have been difficult to find in the literature. The drug inserts and the AMA Drug Evaluations 1971 fail to describe this medication as addicting but refers to it as possibly habituating and relatively harmless. I was naturally pleased to read of Dr. Halliday's two cases, (223:801, 1973) which bear a close resemblance to one of my own.The patient is a 26-year-old Vietnam war veteran and amputee, who lost his left lower limb after being hit by a mortar while serving as a medic. Following introduction and experiencing many "pain killers," he finally stayed with pentazocine ("injectable Talwin") as providing the most acceptable "buzz" for him. He presently mainlines four to seven 30-mg ampules per day with minimal ill effects. Interestingly enough, he has been most active in developing and leading teenage groups at rap and drug centers in their self-help