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Overmedication is an inappropriate medical treatment that occurs when a patient takes unnecessary or excessive medications. This may happen because the prescriber is unaware of other medications the patient is already taking, because of drug interactions with another chemical or target population, because of human error, because of undiagnosed medical conditions or because of conflicts of interest in the pharmaceutical industry, creating-over promotion (via advertising campaigns, sales to private practice Doctors, or biased or altered medical studies) causing widespread unnecessary use of a specific medicine, or unnecessary dosage of a medicine, due to excessive profit motives in the pharmaceutical industry. This is also sometimes described as the commercialization of medicine.

Overmedication can also occur when consumers take more medication than is prescribed or as labeled on over-the-counter products—either intentionally or unintentionally—or when consumers unknowingly take both prescription and nonprescription drug products containing the same active ingredients. For example, overmedication[dubious ] (in the form of acute overdose) can occur when a prescription drug like Vicodin, which contains both hydrocodone and acetaminophen, is taken along with the nonprescription product Tylenol, which contains acetaminophen as the active ingredient. In other words, overmedication can be caused by both prescribers and consumers or their caretakers.

Another important instance of overmedication occurs when consumers are either prescribed or take additional prescribed or OTC drugs which produce the same or similar therapeutic effects. For instance, if a patient is taking a prescription strength ibuprofen product and also uses a naprosyn product—whether prescription or OTC strength—this, too, can constitute overmedication, can be dangerous, and can be costly to the patient in overall health care costs.[medical citation needed] Often consumers/patients overmedicate themselves by taking their medications at shorter intervals than prescribed or than container labels specify. As a result, medications may accumulate at higher levels, causing undesired side effects, sometimes serious, or even fatal. Such situations are often reversed through targeted deprescribing by members of the medical team.

Persons who feel that they are overmedicated tend to not to follow their physician's instructions for taking their medication.[1]


The overmedication of children has dramatically risen with those between the ages of 2 and 5 years old who are being prescribed atypical antipsychotics for bipolar disorders, developmental disabilities, ADHD, and behavior disorders.[2][unreliable medical source?] Drug companies have benefited considerably with profits made in sales for drugs such as stimulants for hyperactive children, with half a million children in the United States receiving medication.[3][obsolete source] Children have become more involved with technology resulting in less play time outside and less time spent with parents. The long hours children spend with technology has impacted their attachment development, sensory and motor development, along with socialization skills, in return causing behavioral and psychological disorders and learning disabilities being diagnosed by psychotropic medication.[4]

It's important for parents to regulate their child's behavior and environment in order to prevent any future affective disorders. Medication is often prescribed to these children however, it will not teach a child to create more valuable relationships at home or in the community, other forms of intervention should be applied.[5] The increase of psychiatric medication of children may be a result of the noticeable declining support for caregiving, leading to psychopathology in which drugs are the first go to method.[2] Families do not have the time or knowledge regarding other methods of intervention such as child therapy and effective parenting strategies to meet their child's specific needs. There is debate that healthcare professionals have been put under pressure to perform proficiently causing the influence of piecemeal polypharmacy.[6] With a face pace industrial society children are more susceptible for developing disorders due to the lack of a nurturing environment as previously seen, referring to an increase in divorce and separation from extended family.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Fincke, Benjamin Graeme; Miller, Donald R.; Spiro, Avron (March 1998). "The interaction of patient perception of overmedication with drug compliance and side effects". Journal of General Internal Medicine. 13 (3): 182–185. doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.1998.00053.x. 
  2. ^ a b Robbins, Brent. "The overmedication of our youth: An interview with Brent Dean Robbins, PhD". Society for Humanistic Psychology. American Psychological Association. Retrieved 15 March 2016. 
  3. ^ Gittelman, Martin (1979). "Introduction: Refining Diagnosis and Behavioral Intervention: Key to Preventing Overmedication". International Journal of Mental Health. 8: 3–9. Retrieved 23 February 2016. 
  4. ^ Rowan, Cris (2010). "Unplug-Don't Drug: A Critical Look at the Influence of Technology on Child Behavior with an Alternative Way of Responding other than Evaluation and Drugging". Ethical Human Psychology & Psychiatry. 12: 61. doi:10.1891/1559-4343.12.1.60. 
  5. ^ Luvmour, Josette (2011). "Nurturing Children's Well-Being: A Developmental Response to Trends of Overdiagnosis and Overmedication". Journal of Humanistic Psychology. 51 (3): 350–368. doi:10.1177/0022167810386958. 
  6. ^ Zakriski, Audrey L.; Wheeler, Elizabeth; Burda, Jeffrey; Shields, Ann (February 2005). "Justifiable Psychopharmacology or Overzealous Prescription? Examining Parental Reports of Lifetime Prescription Histories of Psychiatrically Hospitalized Children". Child and Adolescent Mental Health. 10 (1): 16–22. doi:10.1111/j.1475-3588.2005.00111.x. 

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