A patient with drug addiction in primary care

A patient who is addicted to drugs will attempt to obtain prescriptions for escalating doses under any medical pretence. Addiction is a clearly different phenomenon than drug dependence, where withdrawal symptoms prevent the discontinuation of medication which is no longer needed. A certain degree of suspicion is needed to identify a drug-seeking patient. However, when a physician identifies a patient with drug addiction, he/she should be able to show empathy, be direct and have a sincere wish to understand and help the patient.