Updated on 09/18/23

Sometimes managing mental health and substance use disorders requires medication. While initially, it might help your loved one, taking prescription medication could also lead to an addiction. If your loved one develops an addiction to prescription medication, they could develop manipulative behaviors to secure their drug of choice. Your loved one may go as far as partaking in doctor shopping. If this happens, you will want to know the signs so that you can help them manage their addiction with healthier coping mechanisms. Let’s look at signs of doctor shopping is and how you can spot the signs and help your loved one.

What is Doctor Shopping?

Doctor shopping is when patients go from healthcare provider to healthcare provider or pharmacy to obtain multiple prescriptions. When your loved one does this, they are misrepresenting their needs to get multiple prescriptions for medication from a doctor. They might repeat this and continue to abuse the system for their gain.

There are ways of stopping this practice from happening, such as prescription drug monitoring programs and doctor shopping laws, but if your loved one is in the throes of their addiction, they may find ways around prescription fraud. Since addiction is a serious disease, your loved one might go to great lengths to attain a drug because their addiction is driving them. Doctor shopping is illegal and the extreme measures your loved one might go to could put them in further danger. Below of four signs of doctor shopping.

4 Signs of Doctor Shopping

Sign #1: Common Drugs for Doctor Shoppers

More often, the drugs associated with developing addictions and motivating patients to doctor shop are opioids, benzodiazepines and stimulants. If your loved one is actively seeking multiple prescriptions, they might either use the drugs prescribed or sell the drugs in order to attain the drug of their choice. Some of the specific prescription drugs that are commonly associated with doctor shopping include:

  • Xanax
  • Vicodin
  • Oxycontin (oxycodone)

Drug use that results from doctor shopping is dangerous. Prescription drug addictions are powerful substances that can lead to overdose if not taken responsibly or mixed with other drugs and substances. Therefore, it is important to educate yourself on what your loved one is taking and be aware of any changes in their mood because such changes could indicate that your loved one could be developing a dependency.

Sign #2: Doctor Shoppers Make Multiple Doctor Visits

If you notice your loved one continually making multiple doctor visits for unrelated issues than are necessary or usual for them, there could be a budding problem. It is essential not to ignore this kind of behavior when it occurs. Your loved one’s well -being is important and their mental and physical health needs should always come first. There are some more clear indicators that you can identify when examining their frequency of doctor visits. For example, if your loved one is driving to other cities, this is a good indication that what they are doing is doctor shopping.

Further, if your loved one is supposed to be with you at a certain time but arrives later than scheduled or does not show up at all, you might read this as them being habitually late. There could be an underlying reason that could be cause for concern. Such a change in schedule and behavior might result from driving long distances to see other doctors, or they might be selling drugs to buyers from other cities or states. Therefore, it is important to know their schedule and examine whether they are acting out of character because these could all be signs that they are motivated by their addiction.

#3: Doctor Shoppers Have Multiple Prescription Bottles

If you notice that your loved one frequently obtains medication, classified as more than one refill a month, this is also a sign of prescription drug addiction. Further, if you notice a variety of prescription bottles in your medicine cabinet, the trash or stashed away in a place you wouldn’t expect, it could be a sign that they are succumbing to addiction and trying to keep it from you. It does not mean that you should invade their personal space or property; however, it is important to be aware of your surroundings when you’re spending time with them. This includes noticing bottles or other paraphernalia.

Sign #4: Changes in Mood and Personality of Doctor Shoppers

When people are under the weight of addiction, they can be cautious with covering their tracks. Therefore, it might not always be as obvious as finding multiple prescription bottles or noticing serious changes in their schedule. One of the ways you can gauge if your loved one has developed a dependency is by their mood and behavior. Suppose you notice that your loved one is not acting like their usual self and becomes defensive when asked simple questions or seems to withdraw and become secretive. These are all signs of concern, especially if they have struggled with addiction in the past. Other signs they might be developing an addiction include:

  • Irritability
  • Physical changes such as weight loss/gain
  • Not reaching out or connecting with you as frequently

With these four signs of doctor shopping, it will be easier to identify if a loved one is doctor shopping. Doctor shopping is a serious offense and could further set them back in their recovery. At New Hope Ranch, just outside of Austin, Texas, we offer the best resources to treat prescription drug addictions. Our services include a thorough screening process and a monitored detox period. We also work with families to better educate them on the warning signs of addiction. Our goal is to provide the best resources for families to handle the challenges of addiction and recovery together. If you suspect that your loved one needs help, then it is time to reach out to a professional. We can provide you with the right information to help you help your loved one with the best approach possible. To find out more, call us at (737) 600-8565