When someone is abusing or has become addicted to prescription medications, they are usually taking much higher doses than directed, which causes them to need more of the prescription drug they are misusing. Prescription pain medications can be acquired on the black market, through drug diversion, and one other way for a person to procure prescription drugs in higher volumes is for them to do what’s called “doctor shopping.” In addition to doctor shopping laws that exist in different states and municipalities, the activity is at best a slippery ethical slope and puts health care professionals, including primary care physicians, in a position where they have to have their guard up at all times whenever presented with symptoms that would call for pain medications to be prescribed. Prescription monitoring, prescription records, and keeping prescription databases up to date are now all vital tasks that have to be accomplished by physical and mental health practices.
If you would like to know more about the signs of doctor shopping or talk to us at Serenity Oaks regarding any substance abuse topics, including drug treatment options, call us today.
What is Doctor Shopping?
Doctor shopping is the activity that some people who are addicted to prescription medications, especially opioid painkillers, use to attain more drugs than would normally be prescribed. They do this by visiting multiple health care providers. By presenting themselves as a new patient to multiple doctors, they can explain symptoms of pain as if they are not seeing any other health care professionals for the same issue. Once they have obtained multiple prescriptions, they can also maximize the amount of opioid painkillers or other drugs they can acquire by getting as many refills as possible. There are prescription records, prescription databases, and prescription drug monitoring programs and regulations in place, but doctor shoppers who are desperate learn tricks to get around these rules.
Signs Someone is Doctor Shopping
One thing that is almost universal when it comes to individuals who have fallen into a cycle of substance abuse is that they will either deny having a problem or state that they have their issue with drug abuse under control. That’s why it’s sometimes hard to see signs of misuse, including signs of doctor shopping or instances of prescription fraud, in someone you love. If you think someone has been abusing prescription medication of any type, here are some signs to look for regarding if they have become a doctor shopper to feed their need for drugs:
- Stashing prescription drugs around the house or in the medicine cabinet
- Using medications in a different form than prescribed, such as by crushing pills and snorting them
- Combining medications with other drugs
- Faking illnesses often and going to multiple physicians
- Complaining about the medications not working (a sign of physical tolerance or drug addiction)
- Requesting stronger versions of their medications from doctors
Doctor Shopping Laws in Florida
There are laws regarding shopping for doctors in many states, including South Carolina, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and others. Sadly, there are doctors who become known for easily prescribing medication, especially opioid painkillers, who are referred to as pill mills, that are committing drug crimes, too. Making it quick and easy to procure prescription medications is also unethical and illegal, and again, laws vary from place to place. When people doctor shop in Florida, there are laws and penalties in place and doctor shopping charges can include the following:
- Under Florida law, it is illegal to engage in “doctor shopping,” also known as “withholding information from a practitioner.” Specifically, Florida Statute Section 893.13(7)(8) provides that it is illegal to “[w]ithhold information from a practitioner from whom the person seeks to obtain a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance that the person making the request has received a controlled substance or a prescription for a controlled substance of like therapeutic use from another practitioner within the previous 30 days.”
- Penalties for Doctor Shopping: If a person engages in doctor shopping in Florida, it is punishable as a third-degree felony, which carries with it a prison term of up to five years and a $5,000 monetary fine. A person can also be charged with drug trafficking based upon having the controlled substance in his or her possession. If a person is convicted of drug trafficking, he or she can be imprisoned for up to 25 years and face hefty monetary fines.
Prescription Drug Rehab at Serenity Oaks Fort Lauderdale
If you are struggling with substance abuse, drug addiction, including problems with prescription medications, or any associated mental health issues, please call us today at (833) 720-0708 to hear about drug treatment options. We’re here to help you start a better life without drug abuse.