Advice » In the Workplace» Workplace Issues » Pharmacists Help Customers Stop ...
Pharmacists Help Customers Stop Prescription Drug Abuse

Pharmacists Help Customers Stop Prescription Drug Abuse

Sleuthing may not be part of a pharmacist's official job description, but most druggists call on their detective skills when they suspect a customer is abusing a prescription drug.

Knowing the possible signs of addiction and how to respond to them will give pharmacists the best chance of helping customers who may be in trouble.

Telltale Signs

Although it's wise to give customers the benefit of the doubt, pharmacists should be alert to warning signals that someone is abusing a drug.

"All healthcare professionals have to be careful about labeling someone as an addict," says Rod Shafer, RPh, CEO of the Washington State Pharmacy Association. "They may be taking a large amount of narcotics but have a legitimate reason to do so. But that doesn't negate the fact that one of our roles is to make sure drugs are taken appropriately."

Customers abusing drugs may try to get refills earlier than prescribed, fill a prescription for the same medication using different physicians or demand a prescription be filled the same day it's brought in.
It can be harder to detect customers who visit multiple pharmacies to obtain the same medication. However, as a relief worker at several pharmacies when she first moved to Pierre, South Dakota, Julie Meintsma, RPh, recognized customers who had been in other drugstores where she was also filling in.

"I had seen someone at one pharmacy one day, and then I saw them at another pharmacy," she says. "We did some checking and then alerted the department of health."

To collect more clues, a pharmacist can call other pharmacies to ask if a customer has been filling prescriptions there also. If the evidence suggests drug abuse, the first step is usually to call the customer's doctor.

"We tell the doctor that we think there may be a problem," says Mary Jane Fry, PharmD, a pharmacist at Medic Pharmacy. "We don't usually try to confront the patient, because that is something the doctor will do. As a pharmacist, you don't always know the circumstances, so you can't be privy to a disease the patient has or some extra stress that warrants them taking more than usual."

The most commonly abused prescription drugs include pain medications like hydrocodone or oxycodone, anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepine and muscle relaxants such as carisoprodol, Fry says.

High Tech Tools

Some states have made sleuthing easier for pharmacists. For example, 17 states have controlled-substance prescription monitoring programs, according to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). In Kentucky, when a pharmacist fills a prescription for a controlled substance, the information is transmitted from the pharmacy to a state database. Pharmacists can request a report on a customer if they need information from multiple pharmacies.

Also, 25 states are cracking down on the sale of over-the-counter drugs that contain ingredients such as pseudoephedrine, used in the illegal production of methamphetamine, the NABP says. In Oklahoma, for example, customers cannot buy more than 9 grams of pseudoephedrine over the counter in a 30-day period. Pharmacists keep track by having customers sign a ledger.

Intervention Often Welcome

Although such laws can add to pharmacists' workloads, the reward comes in knowing drugs are being used properly. Most customers who abuse prescription drugs didn't plan on becoming an addict and often welcome intervention, says Fry.

Shafer once had a female customer with an asthmatic condition who came to his pharmacy for Hycodan, a cough medicine. He noticed that over time, her prescription rose from 4 ounces to 16 ounces. One day she came in with a prescription from a different doctor, claiming her own doctor was unavailable. After making some calls, Shafer discovered this wasn't true.

Shafer told the woman that she seemed to be taking a lot of medication and that he had notified her doctor. She broke down and admitted she had a problem. "She was really glad someone had stopped her," he says. "Most people who are in that situation are not happy about being there. That's the positive side of confronting them."

Learn more about healthcare careers.

Latest Jobs

Posted: 05/27/2015
Peoria, IL
Women's Prison Association
Posted: 05/27/2015
New York City, NY, 10003
Posted: 05/27/2015
New Haven, CT, 06510
Posted: 05/27/2015

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-319