Doctor Shopping

Kim Vytell
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Jefferey A. Berman MD, DFASAM
Last Updated
June 1, 2023

Part of the complete guide to understanding addiction

Table of Contents
  1. What is Doctor Shopping?
  2. What Are The Risks Associated With Doctor Shopping?
  3. How You Get Caught
  4. Doctor Shopping isn’t Worth The Risks

To some people, the term doctor shopping may bring to mind the process of searching and selecting the best doctor for you and your specific needs. That’s completely legal. However, actual doctor shopping is illegal. It’s a crime that not only yields serious legal consequences but helps fuel a loved one’s dangerous drug addiction as well. 

Avenues Recovery staff have gained valuable experience through treating many recovering addicts. Combining their expertise, they’ve compiled the following information about the signs of doctor shopping.

What is Doctor Shopping?

Doctor shopping is illegal, stresses Avenues Recovery

The precise definition is varied, but the main Doctor shopping definition addressed in this article is ‘the act of obtaining multiple prescriptions from multiple Doctors for the same prescription-only medication’. It is also called prescription fraud. 

In order to successfully receive multiple, simultaneous prescriptions, the patient will typically lie about their symptoms or the handling of their illness in order to trick the medical practitioner into giving them what they want. In this way, the patient is able to access the drugs that they are addicted to in uncontrolled volumes. Simply put, Dr  shopping is a way that prescription drug-addicted patients manipulate the medical system to receive as many drugs as possible. 

 Doctor shopping is usually motivated by one of two reasons: 

  1.  They are addicted to the prescription drugs 
  2.  They want to sell prescription drugs onwards

Regardless of the reason motivating the doctor hopping, a doctor shopper is breaking the law to either help themselves or others to maintain a drug addiction. 

Avenues Recovery outline the risks of prescription shopping

What Are The Risks Associated With Doctor Shopping?

Rarely, if ever, do we hear stories of the prescription drug addict who gets beaten and mugged by their pharmacist. Secondly, shopping around for prescriptions leaves out the possibility of unexpected and highly dangerous ingredients, such as fentanyl. Still, although the above risks are mitigated when Doctor shopping, the truth is that there’s nothing safe about it.

The first point to remember is that all prescription-only medications are regulated [1] for a reason. They are designed to impact a person’s body and/or mind in a significant and noticeable way. Many such drugs are harmful if imbibed in excess or can become addictive, requiring the patient to continue taking the medicine after they are no longer sick. Any addiction can severely harm a person’s quality of life as well as their health, but the greatest danger is undoubtedly death by overdose.

In addition to all of the psychological, social, and mental consequences, there are also serious legal consequences to avoid.  While Doctor shopping laws vary from state to state, Doctor shopping is usually classed as a felony [2] and can result in significant fines and even incarceration. In addition to being a medical crime in its own right, the patient is also likely to have defrauded their insurer by visiting multiple doctors and obtaining an unlawful amount of medication. 

How You Get Caught

There are multiple ways to get caught Doctor shopping. Some include:

  • Being noticed by a Doctor
  • Getting caught by a pharmacist
  • Overusing your insurance

Doctor Shopping isn’t Worth The Risks

Doctor shopping is risky at best and lethal at worse. For those that are struggling and are guilty of it, there is help available. If you or a loved one are battling an addiction, Avenues Recovery are here to support you all the way through to recovery. Contact us 24/7 to hear more. You deserve better than a life of addiction.

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