What Is Doctor Shopping?

Doctor shopping,

What Is Doctor Shopping?

Doctor shopping is a term that refers to a person going from one doctor to the next in the hopes of receiving additional prescriptions of medications. It’s not about finding a doctor they like better, but rather trying to find access to more of the medications than they were originally prescribed. 

A person suffering from a substance use disorder (SUD) could be using doctor shopping as a way to get access to the prescription drugs they are dependent on, which is a very clear indication that now is the right time to get help.

Why Do People Engage in Doctor Shopping?

Beginning as long as a decade ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognized doctor shopping as one of the core reasons why the opioid epidemic occurred, leading to thousands of deaths due to drug overdose. Because a person was able to go from one doctor to another to obtain a prescription from multiple providers at the same time, it was possible to increase the use of these drugs to dangerous, highly addictive levels.

Doctor shopping allows people to get access to controlled substances from more than one healthcare provider. Typically, each healthcare provider has no idea the person has talked to or has obtained prescriptions from multiple people.

To combat this, new laws were put into place to make doctor shopping illegal. More so, technology has made it much more challenging to obtain multiple prescriptions for controlled substances. Healthcare professionals can now monitor and take action if a person tries to obtain more than one prescription for these medications.

It’s not just opioids that people try to access. Other types of prescription drugs that can cause addiction include:

Why Are Laws Against Doctor Shopping So Important?

Though people may try to access many controlled substances through doctor shopping, let’s consider opioids themselves. The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that between 1999 and 2021, over 106,000 people died from a drug overdose caused by the use of illicit or prescription drugs. In 2021, 80,411 people died from an opioid overdose alone.

Many of these people may have tried to obtain multiple prescriptions for drugs from various doctors. Since pain medications may be given out by a variety of doctors, they may have turned to multiple parties to obtain those prescriptions.

  • A dentist may offer pain medications for a severe toothache.
  • A general doctor may offer pain medications for back pain relief.
  • Another provider may offer pain medications to treat chronic pain from old injuries.

Keep in mind that opioids are often beneficial and necessary. Yet, they carry such a high risk for addictive behavior that doctors must be cautious in prescribing them.

Signs of Doctor Shopping to Watch For

Doctor shopping isn’t often easy to pinpoint. As a family member or friend, you may be able to spot your loved one engaging in this activity.

  • They “lose” prescriptions and need a refill too soon. 
  • They steal prescription medications from other people or ask others for their prescription meds.
  • They visit more than one doctor within a short period of time, often multiple providers.
  • They travel out of state to get medications filled or to see a doctor.
  • They purchase their prescriptions in cash rather than use insurance.
  • They are very focused on getting more of their prescription medication.
  • You have seen more than one prescription for the same or similar medications.

If you see any of the signs of doctor shopping, you may want to look closer to determine if an SUD is present. By knowing the signs of addiction, you can take action sooner to get your family members the help and guidance they need.

Find Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

The Ranch at Dove Tree provides prescription drug addiction treatment in Texas. We provide you with a safe and secure place to detox from prescription drugs so that you are no longer dependent on these substances. If you believe you are engaging in doctor shopping or you cannot seem to get enough of the prescription medications you need to find relief, contact our team for immediate help.

Our drug and alcohol addiction treatment center in Lubbock, TX, can provide you with the resources and support you need to overcome the challenges of addiction.