Opioid addiction is a growing issue for families across Illinois and the country. People of all ages, backgrounds and social statuses can find themselves struggling with chemical dependence because of an injury or illness that necessitates pain management.

Modern opioid painkillers are incredibly potent, which makes them effective and often more affordable than traditional opiate drugs. Synthetic opioids, unfortunately, also have a high risk of abuse. Many people who start taking these medications find themselves unable to stop without help.

Sadly, if you or someone you love feels the need to keep taking opioid painkillers after their doctor and their prescription, various criminal drug charges could eventually result from that addiction. 

Some people engage in doctor shopping to get the medication they need

Awareness of opioid addiction at the federal level has led to both national and state efforts to curtail the proliferation and frequent prescription of opioid medications. Doctors may feel pressured to stop someone’s prescription even if they still report significant levels of pain.

This can lead patients to seek out new doctors to help in their treatment, a process also called doctor shopping. The idea seems logical on the surface. If you go to different doctors to get multiple prescriptions and then fill those medications at different pharmacies, especially if you paid cash instead of using your insurance, you might assume that no one would notice.

However, there are now tracking programs in place that specifically look for people filling prescriptions, especially for opioids, from multiple doctors or at multiple pharmacies. Those who get caught doctor shopping could very well face criminal charges because of their attempts to connect with more medication.

Possessing, transferring or purchasing opioid can lead to charges, too

Possessing more opioid painkillers than a doctor prescribes is a violation of controlled substances laws. The same is true of purchasing painkillers on the unregulated market or taking prescribed medication in a way contrary to the doctor’s initial prescription and recommendations.

There are options available for those facing addiction-related charges, including drug court proceedings and rehabilitation treatments. Getting support and legal advice as early as possible can reduce the impact of drug charges on your future or the future of someone you love.