Opioid Abuse

Is My Loved One an Opioid Abuser?

(From Prescription Drug Abuse by Mark J. Estren, Ph.D.)

Instructions: Thinking about your loved one, friend, or colleague, read each item carefully. Using a scale from 1 to 5—where 1 = “rarely” and 5 = “usually”—rate how often the statement describes your loved one or friend’s behavior.

My friend or loved one:

___ 1. Uses up meds more quickly than the prescription says to use them.

___ 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 they were prescribed.

___ 5. Increases the dose if the prescribed amount is not helping.

___ 6. Takes someone else’s meds.

___ 7. Loses or misplaces meds and has to get replacements.

___ 8. Has mood swings when taking meds.

___ 9. Talks frequently about meds.

___ 10. Uses meds to relieve tension and relax.

___ 11. Needs stronger pain relievers than what others use.

___ 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: Your loved one uses prescription drugs responsibly.

16-30: While your loved one generally uses prescription drugs responsibly, he or she is a prescription drug abuser by the government’s definition—although not in the opinion of most people.

31-45: Your loved one is in danger of becoming a prescription drug abuser. Encourage him or her to talk to the doctor about use of prescription drugs to get the maximum benefit from them with the lowest likelihood of harm or dependency.

46-60: Strong likelihood of abuse. He or she must discuss drug use with a doctor to find ways to prevent full-scale abuse and possible addiction.

61-75: Serious danger of becoming drug dependent. Guidance from a doctor is necessary as soon as possible—you may want to contact the doctor yourself if your loved one does not do so. This behavior is dangerous.

© 2013 Mark J. Estren & Beverly A. Potter. All Rights Reserved. You may copy this quiz for your own use. Any other use requires written permission from the publisher: Ronin Publishing, ronin@roninpub.com, PO Box 22900, Oakland CA 94609.

What the 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 low-level abuser.

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.