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"They're just doctor shopping until they find someone to supply their pill addiction."

The Tired Narrative: 

Patients are labeled as "doctor shoppers" and "drug seekers" in the media. When a pain clinic is shutdown or raided, the patients receiving treatment at that clinic lose their care and scramble to find a new provider.

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The Informed Narrative: 

Patient prescription records are deeply personal. Labeling patients as "drug seekers" and "doctor shoppers" flattens the complexity of health care. Journalists should not be using these terms as shorthand for addiction or misusing prescription drugs. 


Law enforcement officials might label patients as drug seekers and law breakers, and journalists should be critical of this framing device.

Patients who do misuse prescription opioids and other drugs are people who likely require more health care and treatment services, not punishment. 



Describing patients as "drug seekers" and "doctor shoppers" is stigmatizing and could prevent help seeking. Rather than push people into the illicit market where dangerous fentanyl analogues are sold, patients with problematic substance use ought to be given health care services. Punishing substance use is not a "public health approach" to the overdose emergency. 


Connect with Expert Sources:

 Maia Szalavitz, Neuroscience Journalist

Dr. Stefan Kertesz, University of Alabama, Birmingham

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