Ten Tips To Spot Drug-Seekers
by Marty Couret MSN, NP

Ten Tips To Spot Drug-Seekers

  • Recognize the symptoms of withdrawal Anxiety, Chills, Hot Flashes, Irritability, Salivation, Lacrimation, Rhinorrhea, Diaphoresis, Piloerection, Nausea, Vomiting, Abdominal Cramps, and Insomnia
  • Missed office of clinic appointments with subsequent weekend medication requests.
  • Forgery of prescriptions.
  • Theft of drugs from other patients and family members.
  • Be cautious when you are the new provider in town. This is especially important for states where laws are changing so that NPs can prescribe scheduled medications.
  • Long time residents but appear to have no ongoing relationships with and one provider.
  • Repeatedly requesting the replacement of lost or stolen prescriptions.
  • Injuries that require pain medication that will not heal or seem to get worse despite intervention.
  • Patients known to sell or buy street drugs.
  • Caution with patients who are allergic to “Most pain medications” or if all but one medication makes them sick.


  • American Pain Society (1999). Principals of analgesic use in the treatment of acute pain and cancer pain (4th ed.). Glenview IL.
  • Ruggieri, P (1999). Don’t be sucked in by drug seekers. Medical Economics,76 (13): 132-134.

Updated March 7, 2001


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