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An estimated 3% of the United States population deliberately misuse or abuse psychoactive medications, with severe consequences. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than half of patients who sought treatment or died of drug-related medical problems in 1989 were abusing prescription drugs. Physicians who contribute to this problem have been described by the American Medical Association as dishonest--willfully misprescribing for purposes of abuse, usually for profit; disabled by personal problems with drugs or alcohol; dated in their knowledge of current pharmacology or therapeutics; or deceived by various patient-initiated fraudulent approaches. Even physicians who do not meet any of these descriptions must guard against contributing to prescription drug abuse through injudicious prescribing, inadequate safeguarding of prescription forms or drug supplies, or acquiescing to the demands or ruses used to obtain drugs for other than medical purposes.