People who suffer from drug or alcohol addiction may use many different methods for getting the substances they are dependent on. However, drug addiction may not always look like the stereotype portrayed on TV and in movies. Some people may meet dealers in seedy alleyways, while others may order drugs online through illegal digital markets. Still, others may doctor shop. Doctor shopping may not appear to be a symptom of addiction, but in reality, this habit can in fact be just as damaging as buying illicit drugs from strangers on the street.

What Does “Doctor Shop” Mean?

Going to the doctor is usually a regular, if somewhat time-consuming and unpleasant, part of life. For some people, however, going to the doctor may be their method of fueling a drug addiction. When people doctor shop, they use doctors, sometimes many at once, to get prescriptions for controlled substances that they are dependent on, but that they may not necessarily need. For example, someone may doctor shop by visiting several doctors to get refills on the same drug, without telling any of the doctors that they are seeing someone else. In this way, someone may get multiple prescriptions for the same drug in order to use more than they need, to abuse medication, or even to illegally sell their medication.

Someone else may doctor shop by making appointments with doctors that aren’t completely ethical, or who simply don’t know their medical history, in order to exaggerate symptoms to convince a doctor to write them a prescription they don’t really need. Most people doctor shop for controlled substances; for example, for prescription opiates like Percocet or for other medications, like stimulants or benzodiazepines. Some people may even fake symptoms or injuries in order to get medications that they are addicted to.

Why Do People Doctor Shop?

People may doctor shop for multiple reasons. In most cases, it’s because they are addicted to a drug that comes in prescription form. A patient may have been put on prescription opiates for an injury and become addicted to the drug, and may doctor shop to continue getting it, even though they don’t need it anymore. Or, someone may become addicted to substances from the street, like heroin, and decide to doctor shop in order to supplement their supply. Others may doctor shop in order to sell medications illegally for profit, or in order to get through school or work by doctor shopping for stimulants. Regardless of the reason, doctor shopping is illegal and dangerous, and can be a symptom of a serious drug addiction.

Dangers of Doctor Shopping

Doctor shopping carries many dangers. In fact, it is illegal, several measures have been passed in order to prevent and stop the practice. Currently, there is a nationwide pharmacy registry that records prescriptions for controlled substances, so that pharmacists and doctors can prevent patients from filling extra and unnecessary prescriptions for drugs like opiates and other medications. There is also a nationwide database that tracks prescribing practices, in order to prevent doctors from over-prescribing controlled substances. Some doctors have even faced legal trouble for unethical prescribing practices, and some patients have been prevented from getting medications when they have a recorded history of doctor shopping.

Beyond legal trouble, the major issue with doctor shopping is the potential for addiction. People who doctor shop may have serious physical and psychological addictions to their medications, which can cause a host of problems with physical health, relationships, finances, work, and even mental health. Even more dangerous is the fact that many people who doctor shop may not even recognize that they have a problem. Individuals who doctor shop may justify their addiction by arguing that they get their medications from doctors, even though the negative effects on their lives can be just as serious as the effects of heroin addiction for someone who gets their drugs from a stranger. The truth is that addiction, no matter what form it takes, can be profoundly damaging, and ultimately fatal. Since the 1990s, fatal prescription drug overdoses have quadrupled (CDC), a sign that doctor shopping is an extremely dangerous practice.

Getting Help for Addiction

Getting care at a substance abuse treatment facility is usually the most effective option for people looking for help in addressing drug addiction. At Asheville Recovery Center, we offer a range of individualized, evidence-based programs to help people overcome drug and alcohol addiction and develop happy, positive, and fulfilling lifestyles. If you doctor shop, or you think you’re dependent on your medication and you want help in learning to live a life free from addiction, we can help. Call us today at 866-315-8998 for more information on how you can overcome your addiction with our help.

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