Medical IDs Save Lives

Substance Use Disorders and Medical IDs

Substance Use Disorders Medical ID Bracelet and Necklace Substance Use Disorders Medical ID Bracelet and Necklace

Medical IDs for Substance Use Disorders


Substance use disorders or drug addictions are serious diseases that affect a person's ability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication.

Addiction can begin with exposure to prescribed medications, receiving medications from others, or experimental use of a recreational drug. Substance use disorders can impact a person's health and even take over their life.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the estimated number of substance users grew from 240 million in 2011 to 296 million in 2021 and continues to rise.


List of Commonly Abused Substances, Drugs, or Medication

Here are the most commonly abused drugs as listed by The National Institute on Drug Abuse:




Central Nervous System Depressants











Marijuana (Cannabis)

MDMA (Ecstasy/Molly)

Mescaline (Peyote)



Over-the-Counter Medicines:

Dextromethorphan (DXM)



Prescription Opioids

Prescription Stimulants


Rohypnol® (Flunitrazepam)


Steroids (Anabolic)

Synthetic Cannabinoids

Synthetic Cathinones (Bath Salts)



Substance Use and Emergencies

Effects of chronic drug abuse will vary among individuals because different drugs can have different effects. Drug addiction can impact every organ in the human body and can sometimes lead to a life-threatening emergency. The most common and dangerous side-effects of drug abuse include:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Heart attack
  • Nausea
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Death

Medical IDs can Help Identify Substance Use Disorders in an Emergency

In an emergency, substance use disorders can affect a person's behaviour and cause paranoia, aggressiveness, impaired judgment, and loss of self-control. A medical ID can quickly alert and help responders identify drug abuse as the cause of this behavior and apply the right treatment and safety protocols.

A medical ID can also guide responders if they need to administer a different type of medicine or care, and avoid specific drugs that can impact a person's recovery from a substance use disorder. Certain medicines can also have unwanted interactions with a drug that a person is abusing and is present in their bodily system.

Some forms of drug or substance addiction are also treated with medicine, such as Naltrexone. It is important to get advice from a doctor if this information should be engraved on a medical ID, depending on their contraindications and side effects. Knowing a person is taking a prescription such as Naltrexone. If someone is in a serious accident that requires surgery, anesthesia and pain medications may be ineffective, complicating the person’s situation. If medical professionals are unaware that the person is taking Naltrexone, high doses of pain medications and anesthesia may be used possibly causing an overdose.


Addiction is a treatable disorder. There are many ways that can help people to stop their abuse and misuse of drugs and be in control of their life once again. A medical ID is one of the ways that can help substance abuse patients to stay on the path to recovery while reducing stress and enjoying more peace of mind. Please note that medical IDs can often be engraved with this sensitive information on the back of the medical ID so the information is not completely visible to the public, yet first responders will know to look at the engraving information on the back.

According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, contact with drugs are the most common triggers for relapse and wearing a medical ID is a simple and effective way that can help avoid accidental exposure to drugs especially in emergencies where a person in recovery may become unconscious, unable to speak, and have no means to advocate for themselves.


If you or a loved one needs a medical ID for substance use disorder, please check out our helpful guide on what to engrave on a medical identification bracelet or necklace.