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Narcophobia: Part 1: Defining the Problem

Acello, Barbara MS, RN; Bedard, Marcia PhD; Rickels, Charlotte MFA; Dack, Cheryl Ensom BA

Clinical Concerns

Narcophobia is the irrational fear of using narcotic medications to treat chronic pain. Patients, families, and healthcare professionals can experience this fear. Based on an extensive literature review, this article explores whether patients with chronic pain are adequately medicated and, if not, why. Narcophobia and other barriers often prevent adequate pain management even in hospice and home care. Look for Part 2, “What You Can Do,” in the March issue.

Barbara Acello, MS, RN, is an independent nurse consultant and owner of Innovations in Health Care in Denton and El Paso, Texas.

Marcia Bedard, PhD, is a professor emeritus for California State University, Fresno, where Charlotte Rickels, MFA, is a lecturer in the English department. Cheryl Ensom Dack, BA, is a copy writer for Gottschalk’s, Inc. (Editor’s note:At the time the article was written, Cheryl and Charlotte were students).

Address for correspondence: Barbara Acello, MS, RN, 1807 North Elm, Suite 409, Denton, TX 76201; e-mail:

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.