The Dangers of Doctor Shopping for Prescription Drugs

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Doctor shopping has become a serious problem in the United States. It is something that has allowed prescription drug addiction to escalate in recent years. Fortunately, there are some protective measures in place to protect doctors, pharmacist and patients. However, doctor shopping remains a practice that is still occurring today.

The Definition of 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. Sadly, many doctors are aware of doctor shopping, and they do nothing to stop it. Instead, they are more interested in profiting from these addicted or deceptive patients.

Doctor Shopping Statistics

The United States is currently facing a prescription drug abuse and addiction epidemic. Current doctor shopping statistics tell us that: In 2011, more than 41,000 people died because of a drug overdose. Most of these deaths were because of prescription drugs. Close to 17,000 of these deaths involved an opiate drug.

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. That happens all the time. However, if the patient deceitfully obtains a prescription during this visit, it is doctor shopping, and illegal. Unfortunately, once someone begins doctor shopping, 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 opiate 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-powered executive.

What Types of Drugs to Doctor Shoppers Usually Seek?

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

  • Opioid Drugs – Examples are Oxycodone, Vicodin, Dilaudid and Demerol
  • Hallucinogenic Drugs – An example is Ketalar
  • Stimulant Drugs – Examples are Concerta, Strattera, and Dexedrine
  • Central Nervous System Depressant Drugs – Examples are Xanax and Klonopin
  • Anabolic Steroid Drugs – Examples are Oxandrin, Anadrol, and Durabolin

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

The Risks Involved with Doctor Shopping

Studies have shown that doctor shopping is highly linked with drug-related deaths in the United States. So, the risk of death is very real for anyone participating in this behavior. Also, 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 often unable to get the drugs they need because of those who do. This means that they suffer unnecessarily because of the actions of others.

Ways 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.

Do You Doctor Shop? If so, Addiction Treatment Can Help with Your Recovery

It’s possible that you are currently participating in doctor shopping. It may be something that you’ve just started to do because you’re desperate for your medications. It could also be something you’ve been doing for years. Either way, if you are a doctor shopper, this suggests that you may have an addiction. It’s important for you to learn whether or not this is true for you. To do this, you may want to consider taking an addiction quiz to get more information. You may discover that you do, in fact, have an addiction. If this is the case, you need immediate prescription drug rehab. Most people don’t intend to begin doctor shopping. Usually, it’s born out of an internal need they feel to use prescription drugs. You may have gotten addicted to your medications without meaning to. This happens all the time as well. What’s most important is what you do next. Commit to stop doctor shopping and get the help you need to recover.

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