Doctor Shopping and America's Addiction Epidemic

Doctor Shopping and America's Addiction Epidemic

There are a few different ways that addicts go about obtaining prescription drugs for non-medical use, including “doctor shopping.” By visiting several different doctors and having their prescriptions filled by several different pharmacies, people obtain amounts of pills that no single health professional would ever allow. In the US, doctor shopping has become a primary means for addicts to obtain their illicit drugs. Not only are these drugs dangerous themselves, but some serve as precursors to even worse illicit substances.

Doctor Shopping for Prescription Drugs

At a 2006 haring, one high-ranking DEA official testified before the House Government Reform Committee on Criminal Justice to express the magnitude of the problem. She even called it an epidemic, on-par with other national health crises like obesity. Patients who obtain medication by doctor-shopping are likely forge their prescriptions, sell them, or traffic them—often in massive quantities. Not just slimy or thoughtless people, but regular people — our family members and best friends. They don’t know any better, because the issue is so rarely discussed. It’s still considered a taboo subject, drug abuse. We tell ourselves that, as respectable citizens with morals and ethics, we’re safe.

To address the situation, states are implementing prescription drug monitoring programs. PDMPs allow physicians and pharmacists to cross-check prescriptions with each other before handing off prescriptions. These programs have been at least moderately successful in stopping doctor-shoppers. They’ve also helped to expose a handful of doctors who knowingly prescribed excessive medication under the pressure of corrupt pharmaceutical companies (an unfortunate reality since the 90s).

Doctor Shopping and Pill Addiction

The phenomenon of doctor-shopping allows addiction to spread like a plague throughout the country. Hundreds of thousands of addicts–opiate addicts, benzodiazepine addicts, and stimulant addicts–sell and trade their prescriptions back-and-forth, creating a web of negative influences.

From a legal standpoint, doctor shopping is no minor matter at all. It’s a serious felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. The unfortunate part is that so many doctor-shoppers are addicts themselves. Addicts need treatment, not jail. Behaviors like lying, stealing, and doctor-shopping are usually the symptoms of an addiction, not the cause.

Most medications cause dependencies, and that dependencies can easily transform into addictions if you misuse your medication in any way, shape, or form. Doctor-shopping is typically self-serving. People get desperate. The best way to avoid that desperation is to follow your doctor’s orders. If you feel that your medication is too strong or too weak, inform your physician and leave it up to them what to change. Don’t try to make the right judgement call on your own.

Struggling with addiction? Whether you’re addicted to legal medications or illicit ones, we can help. Contact Blueprints for Recovery today to get started on your journey toward a happier, sober life: (888) 744-9969


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