Addiction Helpline and Resource Center

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Prescription Drug Addiction

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Prescription Drug AddictionChronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a relatively rare condition that medical professionals do not fully understand. There is virtually no consensus as to the causes or prevalence of CFS, but researchers concur that it is a problematic condition that drastically reduces one’s quality of life.

There is currently no way to diagnose CFS, so diagnosis consists of testing for other possible causes such as Lyme disease, depression, sleep disorders, alcoholism, drug addiction, lupus, multiple sclerosis, hypothyroidism, mononucleosis or diabetes in order to rule them out. If another medical condition causes these symptoms, then professionals can rule out CFS.

Symptoms of CFS

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have developed diagnostic criteria regarding CFS. According to the CDC, a diagnosis of CFS must exude the following criteria:

  • Severe fatigue for six consecutive months or greater that is unrelated to exertion, is not substantially relieved by rest and is not a result of other medical conditions
  • The fatigue cripples previous activity levels

Furthermore, patients must have four or more of the following symptoms that last six months or longer:

  • Impaired memory or concentration
  • Post-exertional malaise
  • Sleep that is unsatisfactory
  • Muscle pain (myalgia)
  • Pain in multiple joints (arthralgia)
  • Headaches
  • Frequent sore throat
  • Tender lymph nodes

If someone does have CFS, she may have the following symptoms:

  • Gastric difficulties such as nausea, diarrhea or abdominal pain
  • Chills and night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Chronic cough
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to light

If these symptoms describe your situation, you may struggle with CFS.

CFS and Co-Occurring Disorders

People with CFS have a high rate of co-occurring mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, and they are also at an increased risk of developing major depression. These problems in turn greatly increase the risk that someone will become addicted to drugs.

Can CFS Trigger Addiction?

The fatigue and physical pain associated with CFS can cause patients to seek relief in prescription drugs such as opioid painkillers or benzodiazepine sedatives. The depression brought from CFS symptoms can also trigger drug use.

CFS is extremely debilitating and can trigger a host of other problems, so if CFS exists it is critical that it be diagnosed and treated. However, the exact nature of CFS is still controversial, and many sufferers report having difficulty obtaining a diagnosis.

If you think you have chronic fatigue syndrome but need a diagnosis, or if you have been diagnosed but not yet treated, we can connect with practitioners who have experience with CFS. In either case, or if you have questions about treatment, please call our toll-free helpline today. Counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have and to help you find the treatment you need.

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