With millions of Americans struggling with drug addiction, chances are that there are few families who have not experienced the tragedy of seeing a loved one falling into addiction. For many, the trouble begins simply enough with legitimate prescriptions for opioid painkillers following a surgery or injury. A doctor may overprescribe or a patient may overuse the prescription, seeking refills after the pain of the original injury has subsided.
When one doctor cuts a patient off or limits the number of pills in a prescription, the patient may seek alternate methods to feed his or her growing dependency on the drugs. Some of these methods carry serious consequences, both legally and personally. In fact, you may be among those who turn to doctor shopping, and this can place you at risk.
Your future is on the line
Doctor shopping is seeking prescriptions from multiple doctors without telling them another physician is treating you. This is a criminal offense by itself in Maryland and most other states, but other charges often accompany doctor shopping. For example, it may include fraud because you are giving false information to your doctor. Additionally, if police find you with numerous bottles of powerful drugs, you may face charges of possession or intent to distribute. Some signs that someone may be doctor shopping include the following:
- You have numerous prescription bottles for similar medications from different doctors.
- You pay cash for your meds instead of using your insurance.
- You make excuses to obtain more medicine, such as claiming you lost your prescription or it was stolen.
- You ask the doctor for a specific brand and dosage.
- You frequently ask for a higher dosage than before.
- You travel to different cities or counties to visit doctors or pharmacies.
Because of the growing concern about opioid addiction, overdoses and deaths due to prescription drug abuse, many doctors add their patients to a national database where other doctors can identify those who already receive the kinds of drugs most commonly abused. This makes it more difficult to doctor shop. A doctor or alert pharmacist may see the signs and contact authorities if they suspect you are committing prescription fraud. When this happens, you face the potential for serious penalties.
If you are in this situation, you would be wise to reach out for help, both for your drug dependency and your legal matters. Finding the advocacy and support of caring medical and legal professionals may help you overcome the struggles related to your drug addiction and guide you toward a brighter future.