Some of the lies people tell to obtain prescription drugs for non-medical purposes have been around so long as to seem obvious. “I lost my prescription.” “I’m here from out of town, and the pharmacy won’t give me my prescription.” “I can’t reach my regular doctor to get my prescription, can you just give me one instead?” Doctors and other hospital personnel have heard these excuses, and many others, for years. They are trained to spot addicts looking for a fix. One popular one is addicts faking gastroparesis.
But what about when it is not as obvious? What about when an addict voices a vague, difficult to diagnosis condition to abuse prescription drugs? Are addicts using such conditions to abuse prescription drugs?
The “gastro” part refers to the gastrointestinal tract (your tummy), and “paresis” looks similar to “paralysis” because it is (partial paralysis). People with gastroparesis have delayed or impaired function of the muscles in the stomach, where food does not pass through normally (if at all). That leads to all kinds of difficulty, such as severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and the problems associated with inadequate food supply (like blood sugar problems and malnutrition).
In some cases, people have gastroparesis as a side-effect of diabetes. In many cases, the cause of the gastroparesis is unknown. There is no cure. Symptoms can be temporary or last a lifetime. They can be improved or managed with dietary changes, or not. Also, they may respond to alternative therapies, or not. The symptoms can be controlled with pain medication, or not. Some symptoms may grow so severe the person winds up in the ER asking for pain medication.
So if an addict learns of this condition, how do you prevent the addicts faking gastroparesis to obtain prescription drugs?
When an individual genuinely suffers from gastroparesis, lab tests can confirm the diagnosis and the symptoms. For example, the dehydration associated with gastroparesis is detectable. Unfortunately, addicts might experience or fake similar symptoms. Dehydration, nausea, and pain can all be faked. Even vomiting can be self-induced as a ruse to obtain pain medication.
Ideally, a doctor will not prescribe prescription narcotic pain medication for gastroparesis without a diagnosis.
Research has shown that addicts were seeking pain medication visit doctors and emergency rooms with far greater frequency than individuals suffering from chronic conditions such as gastroparesis. On average, someone suffering from a condition which includes chronic pain will visit an ER about two times per year. Drug-seekers visit the ER, on average, more than 14 times per year. If hospitals connect networks with one another and do their research, such frequent visits are a red flag worthy of further inspection.
Someone seeking drugs generally will also exaggerate pain and the need for medication. He or she might even claim an allergy to non-narcotic painkillers as a means to obtain narcotics. When asked about pain level, most suffering from chronic pain will give an honest rating, which may or may not be “10,” but often is not.
Drug-seekers have been shown to nearly always say pain level is a “10” or even higher than a 10. The exaggeration factor is one of the key indications of a drug-seeker.
Unfortunately, pain does not have an objective measurement. People experience pain differently and what is “severe” for one might not be for another. So, pain level alone is not an indication that someone is just a drug-seeker, but it can also be a red flag.
Emergency rooms are not the place to treat chronic pain, and since ER personnel is trained to spot a faker, they will only give small quantities before referring someone to their primary care physician. In the case of someone genuinely suffering from gastroparesis, or any other chronic pain condition, he or she may likely have a supply of emergency pain medication at home from their primary care physician.
If you have a friend or a loved one whom you suspect of faking a chronic health condition to obtain medication, speak with a professional. Though an ER doctor may be able to assist you, your best bet is to get in during the day with a local doctor or nurse practitioner. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, you should be able to get non-emergency treatment for a chronic condition. That practitioner will likely be able to help you identify addiction. If you would like more information regarding addicts faking gastroparesis to gain prescription drugs, call our toll-free number today.