Drug Abusers at Dentists


A dentist’s intention is to help a patient through pain attendant with dental procedures and to help the patient through the recovery and healing process until there is no pain.


Unfortunately, there are individuals who try to take advantage of this.


In the 30 years I have been practicing dentistry I have occasionally run into individuals who have attempted to get pain medication, not for dental issues, but to get high or feed an addiction.   They are known as drug seekers.


One trick I have seen is drug seekers targeting the new dentist on the block, telling the dentist they have dental pain.  The drug seeker tells the dentist what works for them (what they want to abuse) and ask for a prescription. I had one person come in with an infected tooth that needed to be pulled, but if it were pulled, she would not have a reason for getting this prescription.


I’ve had a couple of patients actually steal a couple of pages off of my prescription pad. In one instance I had a pharmacy call from Tifton, GA, 3 hours away, to find out if I had written a particular prescription. When this was faxed, it was not my signature, and it was for something I had never prescribed. This patient was working for the Georgia Department of Labor in an executive capacity, proving that just about anyone can get into trouble.

Yet another patient changed my 15 to a 75 for the amount of pain medicine prescribed.

You may wonder how I find out about this. Well, the pharmacists are continually on the lookout for such abuses, and when they see something out of the norm, they call me. So, I find out who the culprits are and tread carefully. Most of these people usually do not return for further treatment.

A patient who has been seeing me for many years just didn’t want to come in and be seen. Her trick was to send me a text about 4 pm, when it was too late to come in, and let me know that she was in pain and needed some medication. This would happen 3-4 times per year. At one point I did receive a phone call from a pharmacist stating that she was getting the prescription from other practitioners. I was aware of her condition which was really a medical condition that was giving oral pain. But a patient can abuse the kindness, and I eventually dismissed her from my practice.


The state of Georgia is aware of the irregularities and has created new laws to minimize the abuses.  One big change is that we cannot phone in a prescription for pain medicine anymore. Prescription pads are now printed on special paper.


It’s unfortunate that people who have a legitimate need for an isolated incidence of pain now cannot have prescriptions phoned in.  And undoubtedly, those who are addicted will find other ways to get their drugs.