Opioid addiction is a powerful disease that causes sufferers to do desperate things. Once an addict’s doctor stops refilling their prescription, they have to find a way to keep feeding their illness. Often, their only option is to commit prescription drug fraud.
Prescription drug fraud can take several forms, such as:
- Altering prescriptions. Many, if not most, opioid addicts start off as patients suffering serious pain from an injury or other condition. Their doctor prescribes them a powerful painkiller like oxycodone or fentanyl. At first, the drugs work, but eventually, the patient develops a tolerance. To get more pills, they may take a legitimate prescription and change it. They may write in a larger number of refills, or increase the quantity or size of the pills.
- Doctor shopping. Eventually, the patient’s condition will heal, and their doctor will stop filling out prescriptions. The addict may start visiting other medical clinics and hospitals, claiming to be in pain. Some people even deliberately injure themselves to get prescriptions. Others claim to be from out of town and in need of a prescription to replace a bottle of medication they forgot at home.
- Stealing prescription pads. Sometimes, addicts will steal pads or pages from a doctor and write prescriptions.
- Forging prescriptions. Similarly, it is possible to produce convincing copies of prescriptions with dates and other information altered.
In New York State, these actions are considered Class A misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 per count.
Help for opioid addiction
Very often, people who commit prescription drug fraud are addicts suffering from a disease they cannot control. When they get in trouble with the law, they need compassionate and tenacious legal representation. The help of an experienced defense attorney can mean addiction treatment instead of jail.