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The Dangers of Doctor Shopping for Prescription Drugs

two providers meet about avoiding doctor shopping for prescription drugs

Doctor shopping is a serious problem in the United States. It is something that allowed prescription drug addiction to escalate, playing a large part in the current addiction epidemic. Fortunately, there are some protective measures in place to protect doctors, pharmacists, and patients. However, doctor shopping for prescription drugs remains a practice that is still occurring today.

Northpoint Washington knows the dangers of doctor shopping. If you or a loved one lives with an addiction to Adderall, OxyContin, Valium, or any other drug, we can help. Our detox and residential treatment center in Edmonds, Washington, will provide you with the care and support you need to break free from addiction. Call 888.450.2153 now to get started in one of our substance abuse treatment programs.

What Is Doctor Shopping?

Doctor shopping refers to the practice of visiting multiple doctors to get prescriptions for drugs. Doctor shopping is an illegal practice. It is something that people often do as a way to obtain drugs to use, sell, or distribute.

Thankfully, more efforts are underway to curb doctor shopping. For example, many states have begun to require that doctors check a patient’s prescription history before prescribing a new drug. This helps to ensure that the same person is not obtaining multiple prescriptions for the same medication from different doctors.

How Many Doctors Would Be Considered Doctor Shopping?

By definition, visiting more than one doctor to obtain a prescription for the same drug is considered doctor shopping. This should not be confused with getting a second opinion for a specific medical condition. However, if the patient deceitfully obtains a prescription during this visit, it is doctor shopping. Unfortunately, once someone begins doctor shopping for prescription drugs, they are unlikely to stop. This is why recognizing and identifying this behavior is so critical.

Who Is Likely to Doctor Shop?

The individuals that are most likely to doctor shop are those seeking opioid drugs. These have the highest addiction rates of all prescription medications. Doctor shopping occurs much more often than people think. There have been many studies done around the world in different countries. For some, doctor shopping rates were found to be at about 6.3%. For others, it was found that as many as 56% of patients met the criteria for doctor shopping. There is no specific “type” of doctor shopper. It can be a blue-collar worker, a senior citizen, or a high-level executive.

What Types of Drugs Do Doctor Shoppers Usually Seek?

There are five classifications of drugs that doctor shoppers generally seek the most. These are:

  • Opioids – Examples are oxycodone, Vicodin, Dilaudid, and Demerol
  • Hallucinogenics – An example is ketamine
  • Stimulants – Examples are Concerta, Strattera, and Dexedrine
  • Central nervous system depressants – Examples are Xanax and Klonopin
  • Anabolic steroids – Examples are Oxandrin, Anadrol, and Durabolin

Every person who doctor shops has different reasons for doing so. Knowing the types of drugs being sought can help doctors and pharmacists to spot signs of potential doctor shopping behavior.

The Dangers of Doctor Shopping

There are many dangers associated with doctor shopping. Unfortunately, these are dangers that patients who engage in this behavior largely ignore. For those who participate in doctor shopping, they are in danger of:

  • Developing an addiction to the drugs
  • An overdose, which usually happens accidentally
  • Getting arrested
  • Serious health complications
  • Developing mental health conditions or making them worse

Studies have shown that doctor shopping is also highly linked with drug-related deaths in the United States. So, the risk of death is very real for anyone participating in this behavior.

There are risks involved for doctors and pharmacists as well. Most doctors don’t receive proper education about addiction. The same is true for pharmacists. These individuals bear the weight of the responsibility to put a stop to this deceptive practice. They are taught to provide relief and help to their patients. This means that they don’t like to challenge them and their requests for drugs. Unfortunately, patients who don’t doctor shop are sometimes unable to get the drugs they need because of those who do.

How the United States Has Worked to Prevent Doctor Shopping

The good news is that most states have put preventative measures in place for doctor shoppers.

  • Prescription drug monitoring – This requires doctors and pharmacists to log prescriptions filled in a government database. Because of this, recognizing and identifying doctor shopping behaviors has gotten so much easier.
  • Pharmacies – Pharmacists and even pharmacy techs need to be trained in recognizing doctor shopping. Many pharmacies do this already, but many more still need to. Pharmacies need to be able to identify fake or altered prescriptions. They also need to know how to tell when a patient has multiple prescriptions from different doctors. This allows doctor shopping behavior to be reported.

It is important to note that doctor shopping is still a major problem in the United States. However, with more preventative measures being used, incidents of doctor shopping for prescription drugs can be tracked more easily.

Start Addiction Treatment at Northpoint Washington

If you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction to prescription drugs, Northpoint Washington can help. Our compassionate and loving staff will provide the support and care needed to overcome this difficult battle. Contact us today at 888.450.2153 for more information about our residential treatment programs and detox services.