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Drug Seeking Behavior
12.18.2020

Signs of Drug Seeking Behavior

More than 15 million Americans are addicted to drugs, with many of them addicted to prescription drugs. Commonly prescribed medications like Xanax, Oxycodone, Klonopin, Fentanyl, and Adderall are some of the most highly sought-after medications in the country. While these medications can be more beneficial than dangerous when used as directed and under the supervision of a mental health or medical professional, the abuse of them in any capacity can be extremely dangerous and potentially deadly. 

Unfortunately, millions of people across the country are addicted to prescription drugs. And unlike street drugs like heroin, meth, or cocaine, prescription drugs generally come from one source — the pharmacy. This makes it extra challenging for those who are hooked on prescription pills to obtain them, as it takes a greater level of effort and money to do so. It is easy to spot drug seeking behaviors in those who abuse prescription drugs because of the lengths they need to go to so they can keep using.

Signs of Drug Seeking Behavior

People have always partaken in drug seeking behaviors, however ever since the rise of the opioid epidemic, more and more people are looking to get prescribed as much medication as possible. Some of the ways in which they do that include everything from doctor shopping to being dishonest about their symptoms.

Doctor shopping

Doctor shopping is a term used to describe someone who goes from doctor to doctor in an effort to be prescribed more medication. For example, someone who is addicted to oxycodone might go to their doctor and complain of severe physical pain. That doctor prescribes them oxycodone or something similar, giving the person exactly what they want. But, knowing that they cannot go back so soon to that same doctor to get more oxycodone, the user has to find a new doctor to go to in order to get more. This pattern continues to repeat and serves as a method of obtaining the desired prescription. 

In many places, doctor shopping occurs on a regular basis. However, most parts of the country have prescription drug monitoring programs, or PDMP’s, which maintain a national database of patients and the drugs they have been prescribed to prevent doctor shopping. Only those healthcare professionals that participate in PDMP’s can utilize them, which is why doctor shopping can continue to an extent. 

Lying about status of prescription 

Have you ever lost your prescription or forgot it when you went on a trip? Most of the time, you can call your provider and explain what happened so that they can refill your prescription quickly. Those who are addicted to or who abuse prescription drugs exhibit drug seeking behaviors when they are dishonest about the status of their prescription. For instance, they may call their healthcare provider and say that their medication was stolen or lost and request a refill. If a person is doctor shopping, they can do this with a number of different healthcare professionals simultaneously, filling their stash of desired drugs. Of course, this is not a drug seeking behavior that can occur continuously with the same providers, which is why continuing to doctor shop is necessary for this method to be effective. 

Unwillingness to share past medical history 

Anytime someone sees a new physician, they have to provide their medical history. This is routine for everyone, and sometimes that medical history needs to be provided more than once. A common type of drug seeking behavior is unwillingness to share that past medical history, which can include what other doctors the patient has seen, what health conditions they have been diagnosed with, and what treatments they have received. A person who has relapsed into prescription drug abuse is not going to want to share that they were diagnosed with a substance use disorder, nor will they want to share if they have seen several physicians in a short period of time. As a result, patients may shy away from filling out these forms or being upfront with the doctor or the staff when asked questions about it. 

Exaggerating or lying about symptoms 

A person seeking prescription drugs may go to a number of different lengths to get them, including exaggerating or lying about the symptoms they are experiencing. In severe cases, some individuals will bring themselves to the emergency room complaining of significant, unbearable pain in an effort to obtain prescription opioids. In other cases, a person may go to their doctor over and over complaining of chronic pain or another consistent health problem that warrants prescription drugs. Being dishonest about the symptoms that a person is experiencing is one of the most common drug seeking behaviors.

Interpersonal Drug Seeking Behaviors

Drug seeking behaviors are not just limited to interactions with medical professionals, as many people seek out drugs within their social circles. Some examples include:

  •  Asking a friend for some of their pills or offering to trade pills with them
  • Inquiring about where friends, family, and/or loved ones keep their medications stored and what types of medications they are on
  • Attempting to refill other family members prescriptions for them as well as pick them up

Prescription drugs are meant for the person they are prescribed for. They are also meant to be used as recommended and nothing more. Anyone who actively tries to use more than what is suggested, obtain more from multiple sources, or who is interested in using other people’s medications are exhibiting drug seeking behavior, which can be the first sign of a much bigger problem.

Do You Need Help? Call Genesis House Today.

If you or someone you love is engaging in drug seeking behavior, reach out to us right now. We know how painful substance abuse and addiction can be. We are well aware of how destructive this disease is and we are willing to help. If you or someone you love is ready to stop active drug seeking and/or substance abuse, contact us right now. We can help make tomorrow and the days following brighter and full of life.

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Season 3, Episode 31: 29 Years of Recovery w/ Andy V.