As the opioid epidemic in America has reached historic levels, people seeking prescription opioids have resorted to various techniques for obtaining medicines outside of treatment boundaries.
While each of these strategies has its own set of problems, one in particular has far-reaching repercussions. The “doctor shopping” habit illustrates how the opioid crisis and drug overprescribing cause issues throughout the public health spectrum.
Doctor Shopping Defined
The practice of getting prescription medications from several health care practitioners without the prescriber’s awareness of other prescriptions is known as “doctor shopping.” It refers to a person deliberately using multiple physicians to obtain more medications than a single physician might prescribe.
Why Do People Doctor Shop?
Doctor shopping is a sign of a problem with drugs or alcohol. Individuals who engage in these activities may be addicted to prescription pharmaceuticals on a mental or physical level. Substance abuse treatment may be the only option to help them recover. Obtaining prescription pharmaceuticals this way carries the risk of overuse and, inevitably, overdose.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), not all doctor shopping is motivated by unethical behavior. It can be related to psychological and legitimate illness factors.
Signs of Doctor Shopping
The following are signs that you’re practicing doctor shopping:
- Multiple doctors’ visits for no apparent medical reason
- Filling prescriptions at numerous pharmacies
- Visiting a doctor across state or county lines
- Having various doctors write prescriptions for the same drugs
- Taking more medication than is prescribed or not completing prescriptions on time
How Common Is Doctor Shopping?
According to additional research published by the NIH, one out of every 143 people who received a painkiller prescription in 2008 appeared to be a doctor shopper.
On average, doctor shoppers in this study were often between the ages of 20-40. Each year, they saw ten different doctors, received up to 32 prescriptions, and paid in cash whenever feasible to avoid leaving a paper trail of their transactions.
Is There a Way to Prevent Doctor Shopping?
There is a prescription monitoring program in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam (U.S. territory) in America. Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, or PDMPs, are used to prevent prescription drug abuse and diversion. Pharmacies and dispensing practitioners contribute electronic prescribing and dispensing data, which PDMPs gather, monitor, and evaluate. Boards of pharmacy, along with departments of health, professional licensing, law enforcement, substance abuse, and consumer protection, are the agencies that administer the PDMP. Information on federal drug categories II-IV — narcotics such as hydrocodone, tranquilizers such as alprazolam and diazepam, and stimulants such as methylphenidate and butalbital — are collected by PDMPs.
How Is Doctor Shopping a Problem?
A person with a substance abuse problem wants doctors not to notice that they are going to many locations to obtain the same prescriptions. A significant issue, doctor shopping is illegal under federal law and is a felony. In most cases, being caught doctor shopping results in several years in prison and a hefty fine.
Enacted in 1934, the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act was created to control the sale and use of narcotics. It states: “No person shall obtain or attempt to obtain a narcotic drug or procure or attempt to procure the administration of a narcotic drug by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or subterfuge or by the concealment of a material fact.”
The percentage of patients who shop for doctors varies. According to statistics stated in the earlier NIH article, approximately 20% of overdose deaths have indications of doctor shopping. Doctors are sometimes complicit in the scheme, as with the so-called “pill mills” that sell to drug users and dealers.
Are There Any Laws Against Doctor Shopping?
Some patients don’t realize they’re breaking the law when they go doctor shopping. They may acknowledge being dishonest or “breaking the rules” a little, but doctor shopping is illegal under federal law.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is up to each state to enforce and regulate the practice of prescription drugs. Although each state’s regulations differ significantly, the Uniform State Narcotic Drug Act and the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (approved in 1970) provide comprehensive coverage related to prescription drugs. Anyone who obtains or attempts to obtain a narcotic drug through deception, misrepresentation, fraud, or concealing facts is breaking the law and faces a hefty fine and jail time.
In America, any patient information provided to a health practitioner during doctor shopping is not protected by the normal doctor-patient confidentiality privilege in 23 states.
Doctor Shopping: A Red Flag Of Drug And Alcohol Addiction
A person visiting multiple medical providers to obtain prescription medication is known as “doctor shopping.” In most cases, someone who does this has a substance use disorder. Proper treatment can help someone overcome these issues.
The secret is to pick the right treatment center that fits your needs.
If you feel someone you care about is doctor shopping, they need assistance. You can find the best part-time hospitalization and intensive outpatient rehabilitation programs through DetoxNearMe.com. If you’ve been doctor shopping and abusing prescription pills, now is the time to seek and receive the help you need. You don’t have to be addicted to prescription medications for the rest of your life.
Treatment center admissions staff are accessible to speak with you 24/7, regardless of your situation. They will explain how their detox and treatment programs work and assist you in determining the best course of action for you. Contact DetoxNearMe.com today immediately to find out more.