Doctor shopping is a term used for pill addicts who maintain their pill supply by going to several doctors within the same time period and obtaining narcotic prescriptions from each one of them. If your family member is addicted to prescription pills, he typically has two supply options: buy them on the street or get them from a doctor. Street pills are risky because he could get arrested during the buy or the supply can dry up with little warning and lead to withdrawal. Because of these risks, he may prefer to get legitimate prescriptions. Most addicts need more pills than prescribed on a daily basis to keep from going into withdrawal, which means they run out before the next refill. This leads to doctor shopping. Signs of doctor shopping include:
Many doctors: He will have appointments with several doctors in the same week or month. Each doctor will be from a separate group or network, and in many cases their offices will not be near each other. The symptoms or illness the addict seeks medical care for will depend on what type of narcotic he wants. For example, anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms are often described by those seeking Xanax, Valium or Klonopin. If he is addicted to pain pills, he will tell the doctor about backaches, headaches or other severe and constant pain.
Bypassing Insurance: Insurance companies keep databases filled with patient information. If the addict’s name pops up too often, especially with several different doctors writing narcotic prescriptions, the company could decide to alert law enforcement officials. It is a crime in many states. Doctor shoppers typically pay for visits and prescriptions with cash to avoid this scrutiny. By paying for everything out of pocket and not having the doctor file a claim, the insurance company is not aware that there was an appointment or that a prescription was written.
Allergy Lists: Doctors are cautious about writing narcotic prescriptions for new patients. They instead, suggest non-narcotics, which defeat the purpose of doctor shopping. To combat this problem, the addict will claim to be allergic to non-narcotic medications to treat the condition he claims to suffer from.
Pill Bottles: If he is doctor shopping, you may see many pill bottles with different doctors names on them and the date filled labels will overlap. In addition, the dosage amounts will differ or they will be filled at different pharmacies. This is because a pharmacy won't usually fill a new narcotic prescription of the same name and dosage that’s recently been filled if enough time has not elapsed. Doctor shoppers get around this by either getting each doctor to write a different dosage or by taking each prescription to a different pharmacy to be filled.