Indicators of Drug Seeking Behavior


The best way to avoid drug seeking behavior is to check the Controlled Substances Monitoring Database (CSMD)


Potential Doctor and Pharmacy Shoppers Identified in the CSMD, 2010-2016

For more suggestions specific to physicians, please visit our SCAD health team website.

Indicators of Drug Seeking Behavior

Typical requests and complaints

  • Aggressively complaining about a need for a drug
  • Asking for specific drugs by name
  • Asking for brand names
  • Requesting to have the dose increased
  • Claiming multiple allergies to alternative drugs
  • Anger or irritability when questioned closely about symptoms such as pain

Inappropriate self-medicating

  • Taking a few extra, unauthorized doses on occasion
  • Hoarding drugs
  • Using a controlled substance for non-pain relief purposes (e.g. to enhance mood, aid sleep)
  • Injecting an oral formulation

Inappropriate use of general practice

  • Visiting multiple doctors for controlled substances (doctor shopping)
  • Frequently calling the clinic
  • Frequent unscheduled clinic visits for early refills
  • Consistently disruptive behavior when arriving at the clinic
  • Consistently calling outside of clinic hours or when a particular doctor who prescribes controlled substances is on call

Resistant behavior

  • Unwilling to consider other drugs or non-drug treatments
  • Frequent unauthorized dose escalations after being told that it is inappropriate
  • Unwilling to sign controlled substances agreement
  • Refusing diagnostic workup or consultation

Manipulative or illegal behavior

  • Claiming to be on a waiting list for, or unable to afford, dental work and needing to manage dental pain
  • Obtaining controlled drugs from family members (including stealing from older relatives)
  • Using aliases
  • Forging prescriptions
  • Pattern of lost or stolen prescriptions
  • Selling drugs
  • Obtaining controlled drugs from illicit sources

Other typical behaviors

  • Being more concerned about the drug than a medical problem
  • Deterioration at home or work or reduction of social activities because of adverse drug effects

From Dealing with drug-seeking behavior. Adapted with permission from The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Prescribing drugs of dependence in general practice, Part A – Clinical governance framework. Melbourne: RACGP, 2015.http://www.racgp.org.au/your-practice/guidelines/drugs-of-dependence-a [cited 2016 May 1]