Addiction Helpline and Resource Center

Pseudo-Addiction and Painkiller Dependence

Pseudo-Addiction and Painkiller DependenceMost often associated with chronic pain, pseudo-addiction is the term for a syndrome that has behaviors associated with addiction. This syndrome is inadvertently induced as a result of medical treatment or diagnostic procedures.

Chronic Pain and Painkillers

People who suffer with chronic pain are no longer able to live the life they previously lived. They experience ongoing pain, cannot sleep, have weakened immune systems, and suffer with hopelessness, fear, depression, irritability, anxiety, and stress. Because of these daily struggles, people with chronic pain often have a loss of mobility, decreased sexual activity, marital conflicts, and thoughts of suicide. Therefore many people with chronic pain accept the painkiller their doctor prescribes. The most common painkillers prescribed for chronic pain include the following:

  • Celebrex
  • Tramadol
  • Demerol
  • Lorcet
  • Vicodin
  • Lortab
  • Percocet and Percodan
  • Fentanyl
  • OxyContin
  • Oxycodone

Unfortunately, the risks and side effects of these drugs are significant and can include nausea, constipation, headache, dizziness, addiction, and heart attack.

Common Signs of Painkiller Addiction

It is often difficult to determine when a person who has prescribed painkiller medications moves from dependence to abuse to addiction. This is especially true when a person has a pseudo-addiction due to chronic pain. However, there are some signs that indicate that you may need to re-evaluate your painkiller use to ensure that you are not becoming addicted. These signs include the following:

  • Using the drug even when the pain is not being managed
  • Using the pseudo-addiction symptoms in an attempt to get more medication
  • Ignoring other pain management strategies
  • Experiencing mood and behavior changes associated with the medication schedule, not the chronic pain
  • Being secretive or deceitful about getting and using the drugs
  • Using drugs prescribed to others
  • Feeling physical withdrawal symptoms when doses are missed
  • Using more than the recommended amount of medication
  • Becoming withdrawn from friends, family and society
  • Incurring financial problems associated purchasing more pills
  • Having a past history of drug addiction

Any one of these indicators should make you stop and evaluate your drug use. If you have several indicators, reach out and get help.

Treating Addiction and Pain

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) there are several factors that can contribute to effective chronic pain management and addiction, including the following:

  • Having only one physician prescribe all pain medications
  • Encouraging maintenance of stability at home and at the workplace
  • Periodically weaning the patient from the pain medication to assess the pain syndrome and level of function
  • Reducing opioid use to the minimum dose necessary to effectively relieve pain while maintaining an effective level of function
  • Using nonpsychotropic pain management options when possible without sacrificing effective pain relief or level of function

Often, it is recommended that a person detox from painkiller medications in order to assess his or her level of drug dependence and tolerance.

If you need a sensitive treatment option, you will want an integrated treatment program that considers both your addiction and your chronic pain issues. You also want to make sure that the medical staff associated with the addiction facility has experience dealing with chronic pain.

Get Help for Pseudo-Addiction and Painkiller Dependence

Dealing with chronic pain is a daily struggle. When people with chronic pain become overly focused on their pain medication, it may be an indication that they are becoming addicted. When it comes to finding help with your pseudo-addiction and painkiller dependence, we can help you learn about resources that could benefit you. Please call our toll-free number today. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about addiction.

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