Blog - Beach House Rehab Center
An indian doctor talking to a female caucasian patient. He is holding a clipboard and pen.
August 22, 2022

Is Doctor Shopping Illegal?

In an attempt to curb the prescription drug abuse epidemic, most states have set strict limits on the amount of potentially addictive drugs physicians can prescribe. However, some patients still try to get around these restrictions by making appointments with multiple providers – a practice known as doctor shopping. 

Why Do People Doctor Shop?

While prescription medications like OxyContin, Adderall and Xanax can help people manage conditions such as chronic pain, ADHD and severe anxiety, they can also cause specific changes in the brain’s reward pathways. The longer someone uses these substances, the harder it will be for them to quit because they’ll start experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they don’t have drugs in their system. 

People who can no longer obtain a reliable supply of drugs from their usual prescriber might be desperate enough to game the system to get what they want. Doctor shopping is a type of drug diversion, which is a blanket term for various illegal tactics used to circumvent regulations surrounding controlled substances.

Some patients who doctor shop provide false information or purposely injure themselves to procure drugs. They may also: 

  • Claim to lose prescriptions or medications 
  • Travel to a different city or state for health care
  • Deny visiting other physicians 
  • Forge prescriptions
  • Pretend their symptoms are new and they’ve never taken this drug before 
  • Insist on paying out of pocket, even if they have health insurance

Legal Consequences of Doctor Shopping

Though some people may believe any prescription provided by a physician is legal, doctor shopping is against the law. To combat this statewide problem, Florida created an online drug database in 2011. Since then, physicians and pharmacists who dispense controlled substances must report the prescription within 15 days of filling it. This database enables doctors, pharmacists and police to identify and catch people who are getting prescriptions from multiple sources.

In Florida, doctor shopping is a third-degree felony that carries a prison term of up to five years and a $5,000 fine. By having a controlled substance in your possession, you can also leave yourself vulnerable to facing drug trafficking charges, which is an even more serious crime.

Know When It’s Time to Get Help

A willingness to lie and break the law to continue using drugs is a red flag of addiction. Other warning signs include denial, relationship problems and a loss of interest in hobbies and responsibilities.

Once you are psychologically and physically dependent on drugs and have lost sight of other goals and priorities, addiction treatment is the best way to find freedom and achieve long-term recovery. At Beach House, our Florida rehab offers a full continuum of care to get you the help you need.

Our team of addiction specialists provides a customized experience for each client. Through a combination of individual and group therapy, evidence-based treatment methods and a compassionate culture, we will guide you on the path to healing. To learn more about what sets us apart as one of the country’s best addiction treatment programs, please connect with our admissions counselors today.