Differences in the Personality Profile of Medication-Overuse Headache Sufferers and Drug Addict Patients

Keywords: drug addiction; dependence; personality; medication-overuse headache

(Headache 2011;51:1212-1227)

Background.— Medication-overuse headache (MOH) refers to headache attributed to excessive
use of acute medications. The role of personality needs studies to explain the
shifting from drug use to drug abuse. The main aim of this study is to study
personality, according to Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory,
comparing MOH, episodic headache, substance addicts (SA) vs healthy controls.

Methods.—Eighty-two MOH patients (mean age 44.5; 20 M, 62 F) and 35 episodic headache
(mean age 40.2; 8 M, 27 F), were compared to 37 SA (mean age 32.5; 29 M, 8 F)
and 37 healthy controls (mean age: 32.49; 20 M, 17 F). International
Classification of Headache Disorders 2nd Edition criteria were employed.
Chi-square test, Kruskal-Wallis test, and post hoc comparisons were used for

Results.— MOH patients scored higher on Hypochondriasis, Depression (only females), Hysteria
(only females) (P < .000). MOH did not show higher scores than episodic
headache or healthy controls in dependency scales, while SA did.

Conclusion.— The data obtained show that MOH and SA do not share common personality
characteristics linked to dependence. Although further studies are needed to
understand if such a difference is related to instrumental characteristics or
to yet undiscovered psychobiological characteristics of MOH patients; however,
we hypothesize that the detected difference may rely on the fact that drug
dependence in the 2 groups is promoted by entirely different needs: pleasure
seeking in the SA group, pain avoidance in the MOH group.

Medication-overuse headaches are very common. As pain becomes more chronic, many patients begin to
take too much medication in order to relieve the pain. It may be as simple as
changing the type of medication you’re being prescribed, or better yet, treat
the root problem and not just the symptoms. At AZ TMJ, we do just that. Dr.
Stan Farrell has extensive training in medication management and the treatment
of all types of headaches and facial pain. If you’ve been prescribed medication
for your head, neck or facial pain and are continuing to suffer from headaches,
we can help! Call and schedule an appointment with Dr. Farrell at 480-945-3629