Med seeking is when a drug addict tries to get pill prescriptions from doctors with the intent of using the pills to get high or to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Med seekers go to emergency rooms because of addictions to pain pills (opiates). In some states, med seeking is illegal. If the addict is caught and convicted, it can carry a jail term and fines, however, the crime is not easy to prove. You may have seen the following behaviors with a med seeker:
Increasing number of injuries: Some addicts will self-inflict injuries to have “legitimate” reasons to get pain pill prescriptions. Injuries are caused by hitting themselves with an object, cutting the skin, hitting a head against a hard surface or “falling” down a flight of stairs. Anything that can cause a cut, bruise or swelling will work. To a non-addict this practice is hard to comprehend, but there are few boundaries when it comes to an opiate addict's need to get high.
Mystery Illnesses: Many addicts med seek by describing symptoms that would cause pain but not show up on x-rays or ultrasounds. For example, they may suddenly start getting migraine headaches every few days or once a week, without having a history of such symptoms. Back pain is also a frequent claim. Med seeking addicts will memorize symptoms for disorders and then describe them in detail to medical staff members.
False Allergy Claims: Due to the addictive properties of narcotics, many ER doctors first try to treat pain symptoms with non-narcotic medications. While being admitted, an addict who is seeking a prescription for opiates will list every non-narcotic pain medication on the allergy sheet. Experienced med seekers memorize the possible allergic reactions to those medications, so if they are asked by a suspicious nurse or doctor what happens what reaction they have when taking the non-narcotic, they will sound convincing when answering.
Rotating Emergency Rooms: If you’re asked for a ride to the emergency room, but you are asked to drive further than the one nearby, it may be due to med seeking. Addicts like to rotate which emergency rooms they go to. This is an attempt to prevent being red-flagged, a term that means being flagged in the computer as a possible addict who seeks prescriptions. In addition to rotating emergency rooms, many addicts are aware that several hospitals may be on the same network and will try to get to emergency rooms outside of those networks, so their records are not easily viewed.