Opioid overdose deaths have risen dramatically in the United States over the past two decades. Prescription drugs are an essential part of helping improve the quality of life for those who suffer from acute or chronic pain. However, the misuse and abuse of these drugs, especially opioids, have become a serious national health problem. So, how has “doctor shopping” helped fuel this opioid crisis? Let’s find out!

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant; when opioid medications travel through an individual’s blood and attach to the opioid receptors in the brain cells, the cells release signals that muffle your perception of pain and heighten your feelings of pleasure. 

The most commonly used opioids are:

  • Prescription opioids, such as Vicodin, Hydrocodone, Morphine, and Oxycontin
  • Fentanyl (synthetic opioid 50-100 times more potent than morphine
  • Heroin (illegal street drug)

The risk of addiction is especially high when opioids are used to manage chronic pain over a long period of time. In addition to controlling pain, opioids are also known to make people feel relaxed, happy, or high, and can be extremely addictive. Prescription opioids have become the most abused class of drugs in the United States. 

What is Doctor Shopping?

Doctor shopping is defined as seeing multiple treatment providers, either during a single illness episode or to obtain prescription medications illicitly; it has also been defined as obtaining prescriptions for controlled substances from five or more clinicians during the preceding year. In simple terms, it is when a patient manipulates the system to get access to extra drugs. 

How Has Doctor Shopping Helped Fuel the Opioid Crisis?

Recent studies have shown that doctor shopping is associated with opioid use disorder. In 2019, prescription opioids were involved in 28% of all opioid overdose deaths in the United States. For nearly two decades, medical professionals, including doctors, dentists, and nurse practitioners, have liberally prescribed opioid painkillers to patients despite the evidence that people were becoming addicted. 

Many patients will try doctor shopping to obtain prescriptions for various drugs; the most common include:

  • Anabolic Steroids, such as Dianabol, Anadrol, and Oxandrin 
  • Stimulants, such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine
  • Central Nervous System Depressants, including Xanax, Valium, and Ambien
  • Opioids, like Morphine, Oxycontin, Demerol, Fentanyl, Codeine, Hydrocodone, and Morphine

Short- & Long-Term Effects of Opioid Abuse:

The short-term effects of opioid abuse includes:

  • Nausea
  • Slowed Breathing
  • Constipation  
  • Unconsciousness
  • Drowsiness
  •  Coma

A continual abuse of opioids can be extremely detrimental; this can result in addiction, overdose, and even death. Long-term effects of opioid addiction can include:

  • High levels of anxiety and agitation
  • Hot and/or cold flushes
  • Nausea 
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Insomnia / Difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle twitches and cramps
  • Abdominal bloating and distention
  • Collapsed veins
  • Increased risk of hepatitis and other diseases
  • Liver damage
  • Brain damage

Addiction Recovery at Palmetto Addiction Recovery Centers

Here at Palmetto Addiction Recovery Centers, our team understands that recovery is unique to each individual. Our team will work with you to develop a recovery plan that works best for you. If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid or substance addiction, treatment professionals are standing by to help with a variety of treatment options. Call or visit Palmetto Addiction Recovery Centers Today!