Addiction Helpline and Resource Center

Malingering to Continue Prescription Drug Use

Malingering to Continue Prescription Drug UseMalingering is a medical term that refers to fabricating or exaggerating the symptoms of mental or physical disorders with the motive of gaining secondary benefits. These benefits may include extending prescription drug use past the point of need.

What Are the Perceived Benefits of Malingering?

When people malinger, they do so for one of the following reasons:

  • To get financial compensation
  • To avoid school, work or military service
  • To obtain drugs or extend the use of prescribed medications
  • To get a lighter criminal sentences
  • To attract attention or sympathy

Notice that the underlying motivation to malinger is often to avoid, deny, or perform an unscrupulous act. These behaviors are also often associated with addiction.

Signs of Malingering

There is no diagnostic tool that indicates if a person is malingering with the intent to get a new medication or acquire more of the prescription drug than they need. However the prescribing physician should be suspicious, if any of the following occurs:

  • A person comes to you as a new patient with a preexisting ailment that requires prescribed medication but does not have previous medical records or the contact information for his or her former physician
  • The person has a record of multiple admissions to various hospitals
  • The person is specific on which medications he or she wants you to prescribe or has an unusual and uncommon textbook knowledge of medical conditions
  • When investigating what caused this person’s preexisting ailment, the events that lead up to it are not consistent with the ailment or there are inconsistencies in the retelling of events
  • The patient mentions that they may be seeking financial reimbursement for events that caused the ailment
  • During the course of the examination the patient constantly talks about the requirement for the prescription drugs
  • The symptoms and the medical findings vary significantly
  • Exaggerated, dramatic presentation of symptoms
  • Acceptance of the risk of medical procedures and surgeries
  • Substance abuse
  • Disruptive, attention seeking behavior while in hospital
  • Few visitors during hospital stay

Malingering and Prescription Drug Addiction

A person who malingers does have an agenda, but very few people have the agenda to become an addict. If you know that someone is malingering, and you fear that they are abusing prescription drugs or are addiction, check for any of the following:

  • Medical condition that requires pain medication
  • Family history of addiction
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Fatigue or overwork
  • Depression or poor self-concept

If the person has more than three of these issues, you might want to help them seek assistance now before their malingering with prescription drugs leads to addiction.

Treatment for Malingering

While there is no specific protocol to treat malingering, it is important to consider the underlying reason for the malingering. With that understanding different treatment options can help the person recognize and address the underlying condition. The goals of treating malingering are to stop the behavior, address, the legitimate needs for any medication and to reinforce alternative coping mechanisms.

Get Help for Prescription Drug Addiction

If you or someone you know is addicted prescription drugs or misusing them through malingering, call our toll-free helpline today. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about prescription drug addiction treatment. We are here to help.

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