Stolen or Lost Medication: Forming Relationships with New Doctors

Patient Expert

Unfortunately, we face a very difficult situation when medications are lost or stolen. Controlled substances, particularly opioids for pain management, have come under heavy scrutiny over the past few years due to unfavorable media reports, heavy-handed law enforcement attempting to crack down on the illegal diversion of pain medications and the public fears which are reflected by many in the healthcare professional community.

For further explanation, APF's Treatment Options: A Guide for People Living with Pain. (PDF)   This booklet discusses these issues and what you as someone who lives with pain can do to avoid the abrupt denial of medication refills.

If you have lost your medicine, as discussed in an earlier blog, quickly notify your provider and ask for a sit-down meeting. Explain what happened and ask if a new plan of action can be developed. Maybe he/she would be willing to write a limited prescription for a week at a time and you could agree to be closely monitored for a suitable timeframe. That may reassure your medical team that you have not sold or misused your pain medications, which might be their top concern.

If your provider is unwilling to give you a second chance, then ask for a referral to a new physician, preferably one who understands the treatment of chronic pain. If you need assistance in finding someone, see the APF website. Your provider should be willing to continue your care until you have been evaluated and accepted into a new practice. Sometimes, the new provider will make an agreement to co-manage your pain care with the referring healthcare professional. That way you can keep the original medical relationship with guidance from another pain expert.