Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsMedicine · 1 decade ago

What is and is not "drug-seeking behaviour"?

Saw a movie recently that had a bit of dialogue between a shrink and her legitimately stressed-out patient that went roughly -- _very_ roughly --

Doctor: What can I do to help you?

Patient: At this point, I need some Valium or something like that.

Doctor: I won't prescribe it. That's drug-seeking behaviour.

Absurd as it is, even the most rational sort of 'I think I am at the point where I am in need of medication' seems to be labelled "drug-seeking behaviour" by a lot of doctors. Are there formal definitions for it?

9 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Drug-seeking behavior is sometimes very hard to spot. I have had patients that have come in often to get pain killers. There is a difference in people who need it and people who are addicted to it. Usually, if they are seeking the drug, they will come in with some story about how they either got hurt, or are having some chronic pain that won't go away. Pain isn't something that it easy to diagnos, or one that you can just say they are lying about, but there are things that us medical professionals look for in patients before we will give pain medicine.

    If, for instance, there is an on-going problem that has been diagnosed and that is in their chart, then it's probably safe to perscribe pain meds. If it's the first time a patient has been in and you can really tell they are in pain- pupils dialated, pale or ashen looking, or there is obvious signs of injury or illness- then I will prescribe them.

    There are people though, who unfortunately, are addicted to pain killers or other drugs. They are often times easy to spot. They come in often to the doctor and complain of different ailments to get drugs, they doctor hop, they go into emergency rooms or after-hours clinics often to get drugs, they come in and say they are in a lot of pain, but you can tell they aren't, or they are very aggitated, jumpy, nervous, won't give a discription as to what happened to them, or if you can just tell that they are shady- that is drug-seeking.

    A lot of drug seekers are good at what they do, but eventually most will get caught and the doctors get wise to what they are doing. There is a way to flag these sort of people, and most clinics have a list of people who have come in often for pain killers or other habit-forming drugs.

    Now days, a lot of doctors have either quit prescribing or hardly prescribe pain medication and other drugs for fear of lawsuits, or getting in trouble for prescribing too many to the same person. It's a very fine line, and one that is sometimes not that fun to walk. Take it from someone who has been on the prescribing end of things. Sometimes it's hard to know when someone is drug seeking, but like I said before, usually it will catch up to them.

    Source(s): OB/Gyn CNP
  • 1 decade ago

    this might be considered drug seeking behavior if the person asking for the drug is not acting anxious, does not have a history of anxiety. Doctors are being so care full these days with so many drugs being abused. I once went to a walk in clinic and told the nurse I had the flu with severe body aches especially my back. This was on a holiday and they weren't busy. I heard the nurse talking to the doctor and he said Lock up the narcotics we have another one. Now I hadn't asked for anything yet, I was more worried about getting a doctors note in case I had to miss work for a day or two. According to him that was drug seeking behavior. Go figure. I have worked in drug rehab and know that some people use their day off to go from ER to ER and claim back pain because they know they will be given Vicodan a much abused pain drug. It's a shame that a few drug seekers have made the doctors so over cautious that others who are in real pain are denied medication. I have spinal stenosis and need almost daily pain meds. Luckily I go to the same doctor who knows my history or I to would be denied medication. You could probably go to a Mental health site and do a search for drug seeking behaviors. I'm sure there is a list of hundreds.

    Source(s): RN
  • 1 decade ago

    I'll give you some examples: The drug seeker is preoccupied with his next fix. He calls the doc and says that he accidentally spilled his pills in the toilet while shaving, he calls the police to fill out a report that his pills were stolen out of his car or he forgot them on the airplane, or the script "expired" before he used them but (he or she really have been to probably 5 other docs in the mean while and got scripts from them too!) The dog ate them! Those poor dogs get blamed for everything! Any behavior that is centered around activity of obtaining the next script. Some pts. come to the pharmacy on Friday night or Saturday morning when they know their doc is not working, and they have a suspicious looking script from a doctor that works or lives hundreds of miles away. At those times it is not feasible to get in contact with the doctor to check if it's legitimate. Sometimes you know it's from a stolen prescription pad because they don't write out the RX correctly and it's real obvious. They don't use the correct medical terms and directions. There are really no formal definitions for it other than the person is an addict. Plain and simple. Some are small time and others are big time.

  • ?
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    I would say going places or putting yourself into situations or having friends who overly indulge in alcohol and/or who use drugs is an indicator of drug seeking behavior.

    Now this doctor in my opinion is not with the program. He/She is erring on the side of caution instead of helping the patient. Sometimes "laymen" really do know what they need. Monitoring the prescriptions and knowing the reasons for them is the best way to determine "drug seeking behavior."

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Here is a current example of market acceptable drug seeking behavior:

    Young man with mother in Pharmacy, with an Rx for Ritalin.

    Mother says she has second thoughts about having it filled, as he was in trouble for drinking alcohol and smoking pot.

    Young man complains that the other (non controlled drug for Attention Deficit Disorder) he had taken did not do anything, he still made bad grades and got into trouble. He is really pulling for this Ritalin.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    That is a touchy subject in patient - doctor relations.

    While some doctors will perscribe anything their patient's ask them for - others will not perscribe anything at all. It is all dependant on the doctor, if he is willing to make a commitment to monitor a patient taking valium, pain killers and such - or if they are not willing to.

  • 1 decade ago

    Using a drug (including alcohol) from time to time and then not thinking about it is one thing. Using a drug (including alcohol) and then focusing on how to get more of it qualifies as drug-seeking behavior.

    Nothing judgmental here, that's just the way it is.


  • 1 decade ago

    Drug seeking behavior is an obsession and complusion to obtain the drug at any cost. The only thing the drug seeking person wants is the drug...nothing and noone can stand in the way...divine intervention...mabye

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I would say...Get another doctor.

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