Need help please


I am looking for some advise, my sister IMO is an addict. She goes to ER all the time and different doctors all the time. She goes to ER for migraines, then it was back pain, then kidney stones, now it's all 3! She was going twice a week to ER sometimes even twice a day. She has insurance with a co-pay so it's cheap for her to go. My husband and I checked how many pills she was taking while she lived with us. It was at least 15 hydrocodone a day, and and sometimes perocet on top of that and an ER visit for a shot. In 2 weeks she went to 5 or 6 doctors and 2 ER. One ER doctor gave her 30 hydrocodone and 15 percocet and a shot all in one visit. Another doctor gave her 56 hydrocodone (why not 60?) is there a limit on how many they can give? Anyway when confronted she denied everything and we never showed her the proof.

Is there anything we can do since she is in denial? Call the hospitals maybe? She goes to different doctors so we can't call them. One of the last times she went for a shot they gave her the shot, she got in her car drove to get her pills and was back before her ride showed up to get her.

We are very very worried about her, but she is an adult. Is there anything we can do?

classicdame, MSN, EdD

2 Articles; 7,255 Posts

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

What a shame. She is either addicted, has mental problems, has REAL physical problems that are not being addressed, or all three. She is at risk of harming herself (and others, if she has a car crash). I would call a psychiatrist to see what community resources are available or what advice they would offer. If there is nothing in the yellow pages of your phone book regarding addictions I would contact the police. They probably know and you don't have to file a complaint to get help.


362 Posts

Unfortunately drug seekers always find ways to get drugs. I suggest talking to her. But until she wants to change, there may not be much you can do.

From my experience, several of our clients have become addicted to pain meds. They jump from ER to ER to Dr. To Dr. and think they are getting away with it. But they are being watched, and eventually they get arrested for drug seeking.

I would mention to your sister that she might be being tracked. That may stop her behavior.


6 Posts

Thanks for your replies! So, she can actually get in trouble for doing this? It seems like her insurance carrier would do something, they are paying for everything!!

We did call one pharmacy and they put a note on her chart but said it would only be noted for that location not the chain. I was thinking of calling the local ER's I know they won't talk to us but maybe they would make a note on her chart as well. From what I have read the back pain, headaches and stomach cramps that she gets the shots for are all withdrawal symptoms.

iamablonde, BSN, RN

1 Article; 52 Posts

Specializes in Case management, UM, AL, psych, CD. Has 20 years experience.

I work for an insurance company and can tell you for CERTAIN, that her use is being monitored...and they will take some sort of action eventually.


362 Posts

I can't say for sure whether she'll get into toruble or not, since I don't know all the laws of your state, nor do I know what her med recs say. But in the past year, I have known of about 6 of the clients at the law firm I work at that got arrested for drug seeking.

They would jump from ER to ER, with complaints of pain and asking for specific drugs, and after a few months of this the police showed up at their doorstep and took them to jail.

Talk to your sister and see if she could talk to her doctor about better ways to manage her pain. If she really is in severe pain, then her doctor would be the best person to give her advice.

I personally like going to the same doctor every time, so they know my complete history and can connect the dots. Maybe that would help her too.

Specializes in Med/Surg.

How can you be arrested for "drug seeking?" I am not understanding how that behavior ALONE is unlawful. Pain in the ass...yes. Harmful to the patient? Yes. Monitored by the hospitals and the insurance company? Yes. But illegal? They can't say she is for sure faking/exaggerating her symptoms, so what would be breaking the law?

I had issues with my insurance company prior to being diagnosed with my (chronic) health problems. They sent a letter to my GYN about the scripts I got from him....he said when I had an appt with him, that he was obligated to tell me he received it, and then said, "I know about the prescriptions, I WROTE THEM!" So not all frequent ER visits are by drug-seekers. For me, it was a desperate search to be relieved from the severe pain I dealt with (although I didn't go often, less than once a month, because I know "chronic pelvic pain" will get you labeled in a heartbeat). Just a thought that she may TRULY be suffering.


362 Posts

How can you be arrested for "drug seeking?" I am not understanding how that behavior ALONE is unlawful. Pain in the ass...yes. Harmful to the patient? Yes. Monitored by the hospitals and the insurance company? Yes. But illegal? They can't say she is for sure faking/exaggerating her symptoms, so what would be breaking the law?


It is illegal to make up symptoms to get pain meds. It is illegal to go to several different doctors for the same problem toget the same narcs. Going to different ER's and doctors everytime is a big red flag. If her pain is legitimate, why not go to the same doctor? What purpose does it serve to jump around for tx and pain meds?

Also, I never said she was faking. I don't know her, I can't say for sure. If she's not, I think it would serve her best to discuss her treatment options with her PCP, so she won't have to rely so heavily on drugs for relief.


19 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, ER. Has 9 years experience.

I'm not seeing how a "behavior" can be illegal. Sure, there are more than a handful of my ED's frequent visitors that I wouldn't mind seeing less often, but I certainly can't imagine ever calling the police because I don't believe a pt's complaints.

Is this behavior a pain in the neck? Yes. Is this taking my time away from pt's that may need me more? Absolutely. Do I tend to occasioanlly get frustrated and want to call 911 on a PITA drug seeker? YES! But I can't do it. It is not illegal to come to my ED umpteem times in one week and request pain medications. It is not illegal to make up symptoms - how do we truly know how anyone else feels? Until we have a BS detector that we can place on a finger like an oximeter we are pretty much out of luck. This is certainly not to say we have to give narcs to anyone who requests them.

Stealing narcs or forging scripts will by you a trip to jail. But I just can't figure out what law these folks may be breaking otherwise.


362 Posts

Just as it is illegal to offer money for pot, or offer money for sex (both of which are behaviors), it is illegal to go to multiple hospitals/doctors and obtain multiple prescriptions for narcotics. That is drug abuse, and can be prosecuted.


362 Posts

Roos - it isn't a matter of calling the police because you don't believe your pt's complaints. Usually doctors notice the pt. that is drug seeking and notify police. I believe there is also a database that is used to track these people, but I'm not 100% on that.

After looking through our case files, I believe the charge is called "Providing False Information to Obtain a Controlled Susbstance".


6 Posts

It sounds like she could actually go to jail for this, or at least get into some serious trouble. The problem is since we confronted her about this she has moved out of our home and doesn't like us very much to say the least. I know that's just part of her addiction, and I can only imagine how she feels (having to go to doctors and ER) just feel normal. I wish I could talk to her BEFORE something terrible happens, but that's not possible at the moment.

I guess my real question is, should we just leave her alone and let her hit her bottom? Or should we call the hospitals? How many hydrocodone a day are dangerous? I have read that the tylenol is very bad for your kidneys and liver, she has already had some liver test come back abnormal. That particular doctor did a lot of test and she hasn't been back to him to my knowledge. I feel like she is killing herself slowly and I don't know if anyone can stop her.

Thank you all for your advise!

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