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  • When a person suffers from an addiction that involves prescription medication, sometimes the person will develop manipulative behaviors in order to secure their drug of choice. For instance, those struggling with substance abuse may partake in “doctor shopping.”

    What Is Doctor Shopping?

    Doctor shopping is when someone goes from provider to provider or pharmacy to pharmacy in order to obtain multiple prescriptions. This is how misrepresentation occurs which leads to doctors prescribing certain drugs to a patient who’s abusing the system for their own gain.

    Although there are ways of stopping this practice from happening, such as prescription drug monitoring programs and doctor shopping laws, those suffering from addiction might find ways around prescription fraud. 

    That’s why it’s important to know when your loved one might be doctor shopping. Here are five signs:

    1. Common Drugs For Doctor Shoppers

    Common drugs that doctor shoppers seek include opioids, benzodiazepines, and stimulants

    Controlled substances are especially sought after. Doctor shoppers will either abuse the medication prescribed or they will sell the drugs in order to get money to help fund their own drug abuse.

    In fact, some of the specific prescription drugs to look out for include:

    Drug use that results from doctor shopping can be dangerous. These are powerful substances that can cause overdose deaths when not used as prescribed, or especially when mixed with opiates, alcohol, or other drugs.

    This can affect public health and cause healthcare providers to mistrust those in actual need of painkillers and other controlled substances.

    2. Countless Doctor Visits

    If your loved one continually visits multiple doctors for seemingly unrelated issues, there could possibly be a problem. It’s important to never judge, but to notice the signs of addiction that can be easily spotted.

    Your loved one’s well-being is important and their health needs should always come first. However, there will be signs you start to pick up on when examining their frequency of doctor visits. 

    If your loved one visits different doctors in separate cities, for example, this is a good indication that they might be doctor shopping.

    3. Driving Long Distances To Fill A Prescription

    If your loved one is supposed to be with you at a certain time, but arrives later than scheduled or simply fails to show up, you might think of them as habitually late. However, there could potentially be more issues to be concerned about.

    For instance, doctor shoppers will sometimes drive long distances to get their prescriptions filled. It’s also possible that they’re selling the prescription drug, thus having to drive across the city or state to meet their buyers.

    4. Plenty Of Prescription Bottles

    If you’ve noticed that your loved one frequently obtains medication, which can usually be classified as more than one refill a month, this can be a sign of prescription drug abuse. 

    Depending on the drug and the method the person uses to secure them, there will likely be strong indicators that suggest your loved one is doctor shopping.

    Perhaps you’ve noticed a variety of prescription bottles in your loved ones medicine cabinet or stashed away in a drawer or special place you wouldn’t expect. 

    We aren’t advocating for searching through your loved one’s items. It is necessary, however, for you to be aware of your surroundings when you’re spending time with them, noticing bottles or other paraphernalia. 

    5. Changes In Mood & Personality

    If you suspect that your loved one is doctor shopping and abusing controlled substances, chances are you’ve already picked up on the sometimes subtle changes one might possess. For many struggling with drug addiction, they develop mood changes such as irritability. 

    If you’ve noticed that your loved one isn’t acting like their usual self and they become defensive when asked simple questions, this secretiveness could be a sign that they have a drug addiction or doctor shop to fuel their habit. 

    Treating Prescription Drug Addiction

    If a loved one visits multiple prescribers in order to obtain painkillers or other prescription medications, know that there are doctor shopping laws and fraud statutes they may be violating. 

    Legal troubles may be concerning, but their physical and mental health are a priority. Those struggling with substance abuse can develop various health issues. That’s why we’re here to help you and offer treatment.

    At our treatment centers, you’ll find healthcare professionals who can assist you. We have addiction treatment resources and offer numerous forms of therapy. To learn about our treatment centers, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Doctor Shopping Laws
    Georgia Office of the Attorney General - Red Flags for Physicians
    National Institute on Drug Abuse - Clinicians, Patients, and Pharmacists
    Stateline - States Require Opioid Prescribers to Check for ‘Doctor Shopping’
    US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health - Doctor Shopping: A Phenomenon of Many Themes

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on July 26, 2022
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