Doctor Shopping For Addiction: The Pursuit Of Controlled Substances

In the realm of addiction treatment, a term that frequently surfaces is “doctor shopping.” The concept may sound innocent initially, but it involves individuals seeking out multiple doctors or healthcare professionals to obtain prescription medications for their addictive tendencies.

Through deception, different doctor visits, and lax medical guidelines, individuals manipulate the healthcare system to acquire controlled substances that can be abused or misused. It is essential to recognize that not all instances of doctor shopping are related to addiction, as some individuals may genuinely require appropriate pain relief or medical treatment. However, it is the deliberate misuse or abuse of prescribed medications that raises significant concerns.

At MAT Care Clinics, we focus on providing safe and effective medication-assisted therapy for individuals trying to better their lives and get clean. We’ve put a lot of time and attention into curbing misuse, offering medications with little to no chance of abuse overseen by medical professionals every step of the way.

In this article, we will delve into the world of doctor shopping for addiction, exploring what it is, why it happens, the drugs commonly sought, and the reasons behind its existence within the medical profession. Additionally, we will shed light on any legal loopholes and medical standards in place to prevent and address this issue.

1. Why Does Doctor Shopping Occur?

There are several reasons why doctor shopping for addiction treatment occurs. Some individuals engage in this behavior to feed their addictive habits, as obtaining multiple prescriptions allows them to maintain their supply of drugs. Others may do so to avoid detection by a single healthcare provider, thus preventing any suspicion or intervention.

Drugs acquired from a medical professional come from a lab and are considered safer than those bought from the street. An addict doesn’t have to find a dealer or test the drug for impurities or risk overdosing on an unexpected substance mixed in, such as fentanyl. Individuals who shop for prescriptions from a doctor have a false sense of security while feeding their addiction.

In some instances, individuals may develop a tolerance to a particular drug, necessitating an increased dosage for the same effect. Doctor shopping may enable them to secure the higher dosage they desire, even if it goes against medical recommendations. Furthermore, not every doctor is willing to prescribe drugs with the potential for addiction. The desire to experience the euphoric effects of certain substances may drive individuals to seek out specific doctors willing to prescribe these drugs.

2. How Doctor Shopping Occurs

Individuals engaged in doctor shopping to feed their addiction often resort to deceitful tactics to manipulate healthcare professionals into prescribing the medications they desire. Here are a few examples of how individuals lie to healthcare professionals:

  • Fabricating or exaggerating pain: One common strategy is to fabricate pain symptoms. For example, an addict seeking opioids may claim to be experiencing severe and debilitating pain, describing it in vivid detail to persuade the doctor to prescribe the desired medication. They may also feign specific symptoms that align with a particular condition, expressing their pain as “chronic,” “throbbing,” “stabbing,” or “burning” to add scenery to their lie.
  • Falsifying medical history: Individuals may provide false or incomplete information about their medical history to obtain prescription medications. For instance, they might conceal their history of substance abuse or downplay the severity of previous addictions. They hope to avoid suspicion and increase the likelihood of receiving prescriptions by omitting crucial details.
  • Doctor hopping and non-disclosure: Individuals can receive prescriptions from multiple doctors without arousing suspicion by deliberately withholding this information. They may create a false impression of being new patients, preventing healthcare professionals from accessing their comprehensive medical history.
  • Seeking prescriptions for others: Some individuals may engage in doctor shopping on behalf of friends or family members who are unable or unwilling to obtain drugs themselves. They may forge relationships with doctors to gain their trust, claiming to be the primary caretaker or concerned family member needing medication for someone else. This manipulation can allow them to acquire drugs for non-medical purposes.
  • Faking psychiatric symptoms: Certain addictive substances, such as benzodiazepines, are commonly prescribed for anxiety and related disorders. Individuals seeking these medications may fabricate or exaggerate psychiatric symptoms, such as panic attacks or generalized anxiety, to convince doctors that they require benzodiazepines for legitimate mental health reasons. This tactic exploits these drugs’ therapeutic potential while disregarding addiction risks.

3. Commonly Sought Drugs

Opioids, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine, are often sought after due to their powerful pain-relieving properties and addictive potential. Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium, are another category of drugs frequently obtained through doctor shopping. These medications are prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders but can produce a calming effect that many find highly addictive and can’t function without.

Stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin are among the most common drugs sought through doctor shopping. These medications treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Still, college students and individuals with demanding professions abuse them for their ability to enhance focus and increase energy levels. In some instances, individuals may engage in doctor shopping for addiction treatment to acquire sedatives, such as Ambien or Lunesta, which can induce relaxation and aid sleep.

4. Why Does the Medical Profession Allow Doctor Shopping?

The medical profession does not condone doctor shopping; however, certain factors contribute to its persistence. Sometimes, healthcare providers have yet to update their communication and information-sharing systems to identify patients who seek it out across multiple practices.

Lawmakers, doctors, and healthcare providers avoiding lawsuits are vested in stopping doctor shopping. Due to this responsibility, legislation has closed various legal loopholes and implemented preventative measures. One such measure is the establishment of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). These state-run electronic databases track the prescribing and dispensing controlled substances, including opioids and other potentially addictive medications. They serve as valuable tools for healthcare providers to access a patient’s prescription history, helping them identify patterns of doctor shopping or potential misuse of drugs.

Furthermore, the medical profession, in tandem with governments, has implemented stricter guidelines to prevent excessive prescribing practices and reduce the availability of addictive medications. The opioid epidemic, closely tied to painkiller prescription, raised awareness about overprescribing medically unnecessary yet addictive drugs. Healthcare professionals are now encouraged to closely monitor patients, assess their risk of addiction, and explore alternative non-pharmacological treatments whenever possible.

MAT Care Clinics and Proper Addiction Care

Not all addiction substitutes are created equal. Some drugs to aid with the recovery process, like methadone, are themselves risky and come with the potential to overdose. At MAT Care Clinics, we help you reach sobriety through medication-assisted treatment with safe, expert therapy. MAT Care medical professionals administer suboxone, sublocade, naltrexone, and Vivitrol at specific intervals and only at our clinic, curbing the risk of abuse.

Reach out online or call (833) 622-0628 for a FREE consultation to begin your path to recovery and wellness today.


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