Prescription Drug Use Disorder
(Prescription Drug Abuse; Prescription Drug Addiction; Prescription Drug Dependence
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Prescription drug use disorder is when a person takes prescription medicines in a way that they are not meant to be taken. It causes them to seek and overuse them even when they cause harm to the person's health, job, schooling, or relationships.
Common ones that are misused are:
The cause is not known. Things like genetics, the environment, and peer pressure may play a role.
This problem often starts in the teen or young adult years. Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Problems may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will also be asked about your use of prescription medicines. Your refill history may be checked. An exam will be done.
Blood and urine tests may be done to check for drugs.
Treatment depends on the medicine that is being misused. The goals are to:
It can take a long time to get better. People may need to be treated many times. It may include 1 or more of the following:
Medicines may be given to ease withdrawal and lower the risk of using again. Common ones are:
Therapy can help a person learn about the choices that lead to the use disorder. This can help a person learn coping and problem-solving skills. A person can also learn how to replace problem behaviors with healthier choices. A person's family should be involved to offer support.
There are many organizations and support groups that can help. People meet often to talk about their misuse problems and their recovery.
To lower the risk of this problem:
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Addiction. National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed September 4, 2020.
Kampman K, Jarvis M. American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) National Practice Guideline for the Use of Medications in the Treatment of Addiction Involving Opioid Use. J Addict Med. 2015 Sep-Oct;9(5):358-367.
Opioid abuse and dependence. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dyname.... Accessed September 4, 2020.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 2/19/2021
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