Pseudo-addiction is a condition where a patient is experiencing severe pain, as a result of a chronic illness but the signs and symptoms of this are misunderstood. Healthcare professionals may interpret the patient’s request for painkillers as a form of addiction.

Signs and symptoms of pseudo-addiction can include some or all of the following:

  • An in-depth knowledge of painkillers and their benefits and side effects.
  • An over exaggeration of pain by moaning, groaning or other verbal expressions of presumed pain.
  • Making a note of the exact times when they are able to take painkillers. This can also include waiting anxiously in between the times when they are able to have their medication.
  • Constantly asking for painkillers.

Someone displaying these symptoms is actually in pain but is refused painkillers because medical staff assume that the patient is an addict.

Unfortunately it is often the case that the patient is in severe pain and their frustration at being unable to ease this pain causes them to behave in this way. This is further exacerbated by appearing to not be believed or taken seriously by the medical staff.