Is My Loved One a Prescription Drug Abuser?
J. Estren, PhD & Beverly A. Potter,
Read each item carefully as you think about
how it applies to your loved one, friend, or colleague.
Rate how often the statement describes your loved one or
friend’s behavior on a scale from 1 to 5,
where 1 is “rarely” and 5 is “usually,”
My friend or loved one:
___ 1. Keeps leftover meds for future
___ 2. Goes to the doctor for a new script before
using up the old one.
___ 3. Goes to multiple doctors for the same meds.
___ 4. Takes meds for something other than for what it
___ 5. Increases the dose if the prescribed amount is
___ 6. Takes someone else’s meds.
___ 7. Loses or misplaces meds and has to get
___ 8. Has mood swings when taking meds.
___ 9. Uses meds to improve alertness and concentration.
___ 10. Uses meds to relieve tension and relax.
___ 11. Needs stronger pain relievers than what others
___ 12. Needs more meds than the doctor prescribes.
___ 13. Enjoys the effects of meds.
___ 14. Has trouble making decisions while taking meds.
___ 15. Looks forward to taking meds.
15: You use prescription drugs responsibly.
16-30: While you generally use prescription drugs
responsibly, you are a prescription drug abuser by the
government’s definition—although not in the opinion of
31-45: You are in danger of becoming a prescription drug
abuser. Talk to your doctor about how you use prescribed
drugs to be sure you are getting the maximum benefit
from them with the lowest likelihood of harm or drug
46-60: Strong likelihood of abuse. Discuss your drug use
with your doctor to find ways to prevent full-scale
abuse and possible addiction.
61-75: You are in serious danger of becoming drug
dependent. Seek guidance from your doctor as soon as
What Your Score Means
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS should be used only at the
time they are prescribed, for the specific condition for
which they are prescribed—and should be properly
discarded if you do not use them up. By government
standards, even the slightest deviation from this equals
abuse—which makes practically everyone at least a
The real medical issue has to do with obtaining more
drugs than you need, using them for purposes other than
those for which they are prescribed, and enjoying the
effects they have—as opposed to simply using them to get
through an injury or illness more comfortably.
If in doubt about whether you may be abusing
prescription drugs—or misusing them, a less pejorative
term—talk to your doctor. This may be difficult—but
remember that your doctor will not condemn you for your
behavior. A doctor’s job is to help, not to judge.