Meloxicam is a prescription anti-inflammatory medication that is known to be abused by people who believe it is a narcotic pain medication. Knowledge about the medication can help prevent its abuse.

Meloxicam is a prescription medication that is occasionally abused by people seeking to fuel their substance use disorder. Meloxicam is not a commonly known street drug and many people may not be familiar with it. However, knowledge about the drug helps prevent people from taking it inappropriately and possibly harming themselves.

What is Meloxicam?

Meloxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), otherwise known as an anti-inflammatory medication. Meloxicam is not a narcotic, or even a controlled substance, although you do need a prescription to obtain meloxicam.

Meloxicam is a bit different from most other NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen) because it has a different mode of action. It is a cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor, which makes it less harmful for the stomach and kidneys than other NSAIDs.

What Is Meloxicam Used For?

Like other NSAIDs, meloxicam is used for pain relief and to reduce inflammation.

Inflammation is what makes your bones, muscles and joints ache, swell, turn red and feel hot. Officially, meloxicam is approved by the FDA for the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. However, health care providers often use it for other off-label uses such as for other inflammatory conditions, pain after surgery and various painful conditions of the musculoskeletal system (such as lower back pain or a sprained wrist).

How Addictive Is Meloxicam?

Meloxicam doesn’t make you high, so it’s technically not a drug of recreation or addiction.

However, meloxicam does have the potential for abuse. Because it is often prescribed for pain, some people mistakenly believe that it is a narcotic and therefore take more of it than prescribed. People suffering from pain may purposely take more of it than prescribed to relieve their pain. When people take more meloxicam than what was prescribed, they increase their risk of experiencing harmful side effects. This increased risk includes adverse reactions, such as bleeding from the stomach, stomach ulceration or perforation, abdominal pain, nausea, headache, heart problems and kidney damage.

In the current environment of opioid abuse and opioid-related deaths, there is tremendous pressure on prescribers to cut back on their prescriptions for opioid pain medications. On the other hand, prescribers are often pressured by patients who have pain — or people who are simply seeking a prescription for opioids — to prescribe something stronger than what they were originally prescribed. To appease patients who are requesting pain medications, prescribers may present meloxicam as a pain medication, but it is best for prescribers to make it clear to patients that although it may help with pain, meloxicam is really an anti-inflammatory drug.

Meloxicam Street Names, Common Misspellings and Generics

Meloxicam is the drug’s generic name. It’s also known by the brand names Mobic and Vivlodex in the United States, and Mobicox in Canada. Trade names for the veterinarian version of meloxicam are: Metacam, Meloxidyl, Loxicom and Orocam. Meloxicam does not have any commonly used street names, likely because it is not a drug that is usually sold on the street.

Meloxicam Addiction Statistics

Given that meloxicam is not truly a drug of addiction, there are no statistics for its role in addictions. To illustrate the low level of addiction potential for meloxicam, in a 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center, out of more than $56 million in drug seizures in New England in 2010, only $200 of it — twenty tablets — was meloxicam. This shows that meloxicam is of little interest to drug traffickers. Its potential for abuse lies in people prescribed it for pain and take too much of it because they mistakenly believe that it is a narcotic pain medication.

If you or a loved one take meloxicam that was not prescribed to you, or take more than you were prescribed, this behavior may indicate a larger problem. Your pain may not be adequately treated or you may be seeking to use medications as a coping mechanism, which can lead to addiction. If you would like to know more about addictions and treatment programs, call The Recovery Village to speak with a representative about how professional addiction treatment can work for you.

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Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Andrew Proulx, MD
Andrew Proulx holds a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, an MD from Queen's University, and has completed post-graduate studies in medicine. He practiced as a primary care physician from 2001 to 2016 in general practice and in the ER. Read more

American Chemical Society. “Meloxicam.” March 13, 2017. Accessed May 2, 2019.

Journal of Anaesthesiology, Clinical Pharmacology. “Meloxicam in the management of post-oper[…]in: Narrative review.” January 2019. Accessed May 2, 2019.

Journal of the American Medical Association. “Safety and efficacy of meloxicam in the […]t of osteoarthritis.” October 23, 2000. Accessed May 2, 2019.

United States Department of Justice National Drug Intelligence Center. “Drug market analysis 2011.” May 2012. Accessed May 2, 2019.

United States Food and Drug Administration. “Highlights of prescribing information: M[…] (meloxicam) tablets.” March 2012. Accessed May 2, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.