Pseudo-Addiction and Painkiller Dependence

Pseudo-Addiction and Painkiller DependencePseudo-addiction is a condition or behavior that many people do not know about. Because of this ignorance, they often mistake this condition for a painkiller addiction rather than what it really is. However, regardless of whether someone struggles with pseudo-addiction or painkiller dependency, the result is a lot of misery for all involved. Seek professional help to overcome these problems.

Help Recognizing Pseudo-Addiction

Patients who live with chronic illness or are recovering from surgery or a serious accident may experience severe levels of pain, even while taking painkillers. The problem is typically not that they are addicted to drugs, but more that they are receiving inadequate levels of pain medication. In this event, a patient may develop drug-seeking behaviors that resemble those of an opiate addict, which could include the following examples:

  • A thorough knowledge of pain medication, along with all benefits and potential side effects
  • Demonstrative signs of pain, including verbal expressions, moaning and crying
  • Counting down the moments until the next dose of painkillers can be administered
  • Anxiety between doses
  • Increasing requests for additional painkillers, despite the protests from treating physicians
  • Seeking other forms of pain relief, including the abuse of alcohol or other prescription painkillers

Caregivers and physicians may incorrectly interpret the above behaviors as signs of a painkiller addiction. They may even wean the patients off the painkillers, which will accelerate their behaviors and requests for pain medication.

How to Treat a Pseudo-Addiction

Pain management that uses painkillers runs the risk of developing an opiate addiction. However, with a pseudo-addiction, the risk for addiction could be accelerated, because the patient will start to seek out other methods of controlling her pain. It can be challenging for a medical staff to recognize whether requests for additional painkillers stem from an addiction or if the patient truly needs help, but it is possible to do this. The solution is to work with a physician who can thoroughly investigate a patient’s background for any history of opiate dependency. If someone has struggle with painkiller addiction in the past, then medical professionals will come up with a course of action to manage pain without using drugs.

It can be difficult to determine whether someone is feeding a painkiller addiction or is in need of legitimate pain relief. However, with an individualized treatment plan, a treatment team can guide patients through the pain without further encouraging a drug dependency.

How to Learn about Pseudo-Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with pseudo-addiction, please call our toll-free helpline. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day to provide sources of painkiller help. They can even help determine whether you face a pseudo-addiction or a true opiate dependence. Pain does not need to be the defining factor in your life, so get help from medical professionals who have only your comfort in mind.