Prescribing drugs of dependence in general practice

Part C2 - The role of opioids in pain management

Appendix B

Last revised: 02 Jun 2020

Drug-seeking patients can often provide well-developed clinical histories that may sound very ‘real’. These patients may aim to exploit doctors’ desires to minimise patients’ distress, but rather than being aggressive, many drugseeking patients will be very pleasant.

Not all drug-seeking patients are faking symptoms. They may have a legitimate complaint and, over time, have become dependent or tolerant and require larger doses of medication to function in their daily lives.479,480

The RACGP advises a one-doctor policy within the practice for prescribing any drugs of dependence unless special arrangements are made to cover leave. The aim of this practice is to minimise drug-seeking behaviour and its resulting harms and costs to the healthcare system.

There is a wide spectrum of drug misuse behaviours – many will not be obvious during the consultation. Behaviours are described below.

Table B1

Table B1

Drug misuse behaviours