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Home > Non-medical use of medicines: health and social responses.

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2021) Non-medical use of medicines: health and social responses. Lisbon: European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

External website: https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/mini-gui...


This miniguide on non-medical use of medicines provides an overview of the most important aspects to consider when planning or delivering health and social responses to problems related to the non-medical use of medicines, and reviews the availability and effectiveness of the responses. It also considers implications for policy and practice.

There is a growing recognition of the important public health consequences that can arise as a result of the non-medical use of medicines and medicinal products. Problems associated with the non-medical use of medicines include both acute health harms and chronic problems, such as dependence.

The groups of medications that have most commonly been associated with concerns about their non-medical use in the EU include:

  • sedatives and hypnotics, including barbiturates, benzodiazepines and benzodiazepine-like drugs such as the ‘Z-drugs’;
  • opioids, including pain relief medications and opioid agonist treatment medications;
  • stimulants prescribed to treat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); and
    over-the-counter drugs, including some cough syrups and antihistamines.

This miniguide is one of a larger set, which together comprise Health and social responses to drug problems: a European guide 2021. The guide supports practitioners and policymakers in tackling the negative consequences of drug use.

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