Doctor Shopping: The Dangers and Consequences Associated with This Practice

The dangers of doctor shopping to abuse opioids The prescription opioid epidemic shed much light on secret practices that were taking place amongst many Americans – doctor shopping, which is defined as,

“The practice of visiting multiple physicians to obtain multiple prescriptions for otherwise illegal drugs.”

Doctor shopping often takes place in emergency rooms and urgent clinics, with the most commonly sought-after drugs being Vicodin and Percocet. These types of medications are controlled substances, which means that it’s much more difficult to return to a person’s primary care physician for more; antidepressants, muscle relaxers and medication used for conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are being prescribed from several different people, which are then used to sell on the street or to lend towards a person’s addiction.

A 2017 study published in the journal Substance Abuse emphasized that from previous studies, approximately 60% of prescription opioid users report obtaining their medications from dealers – and for individuals who aim to manipulate the system, doctor shopping is where many of these dealers obtain the drugs. Despite many people having executed doctor shopping, there are a lot of dangers that come from it:

  • First and foremost, a person is breaking both state and federal law if they lie to their doctor about the symptoms their experiencing and engage in doctor shopping
  • Overdoses are much more likely to occur, because some dealers mix substances together in an effort to make more money from their product
  • Serious mental health conditions could arise because a person is not consuming an appropriate amount of the drug related to their mental or physical condition
  • Addiction is the result for many who doctor shop
  • And more

In 2018, the American Council on Science and Health noted that along with this dangerous practice that’s taking place, people are becoming more creative in efforts to beat the system, as even veterinarians are being asked to watch out for instances that don’t feel right. While more nationwide regulations are being set in place (such as a database that is currently in 20 states which shows the history of what patients have received in the past), community efforts are still needed to combat the complex cycle of addiction from hurting our loved ones.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.