Visitor Question

Unnecessary drug administered at treatment facility causes addiction?

Submitted By: Joel (Texas)

Someone in my immediate family had a history of drug use (not quite addiction) throughout high school and into his college career. The condition worsened after his first semester of college, prompting him to come home, where his drug use and self-medication for “anxiety” increased through the use of illegally obtained Xanax.

He tried other drugs as well, namely marijuana and cocaine, and also (for a brief period) was actually prescribed painkillers due to a car accident he was involved in.

He went away to rehab for a few months, and part of the way through rehab, we found out that he had been prescribed suboxone, a drug used for severe heroin addiction withdrawal. Keep in mind, he went away for benzo abuse, NOT opiates. Not only was he prescribed suboxone, but he was administered 16mg per day indefinitely, while the recommended dose is 2mg, tapering off only for a month.

After he got out of rehab, he started spiraling into a whole different addiction, and for the first time in his life began injecting drugs. He now injects everything from cocaine and heroin, to xanax and even his suboxone. He went into rehab as someone who was self medicating with benzos to treat “anxiety,” and came out a full blown opiate addict.

The rehab facility claims that he told them he was an opiate addict and that he would leave and get drugs if they didn’t give him something. Because he is 19, he is an adult and doesn’t have to stay in the facility. They gave him the suboxone to appease him even after his family members, myself included, and his psychiatrist told the rehab facility that he was having cravings, but not for opiates. Keep in mind, suboxone gets you high if you aren’t coming off other opiates.

My questions is, is there any action that can be taken against the rehab facility, the doctor, or anyone else? They took someone who went away to a young adult facility for benzo misuse and they ruined his life. My family has had to pay for him to be in and out of the hospital, as well as had to deal with a drug addict living in the house.

In a perfect world, I would point the finger at the doctor and say that she wrongfully prescribed him something that caused him to become addicted to opiates. A small part of me thinks she might get kick backs from drug companies, and that’s why she not only prescribed him the drug, but also such a high dose.

I just want a little guidance on what could potentially be done, if anything, and if I can do something, how I get started? Thank you for any information you can give.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Joel,

You are incorrect when asserting Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) is prescribed solely for those being treated for “…severe heroin addiction withdrawal.” Suboxone is widely prescribed for those who may be addicted to other opiate pain medications such as Vicodin, Percodan and Percocet.

According to the rehab facility, your son told them he was an opiate addict and that “he would leave and get drugs if they didn’t give him something.” If there is any truth to that statement, any claim of wrongdoing by the rehab facility is unsupportable.

Before going further you would be best served by speaking with the 19 year old and asking him if he at any time told anyone at the rehab facility, especially the staff or a physician, he was taking any type of opiates.

For you to state the rehab facility ruined the young man’s life is an overstatement. Moreover, there is no evidence the doctor received “kickbacks” from any drug company.

To make such a statement publicly is dangerous. It implies the doctor acted illegally and committed fraud. Accusing the doctor of fraud (a crime of moral turpitude) subjects you to a lawsuit based on slander and libel: slander for speaking the words, and libel for sending them over the internet, or otherwise causing the words to be published.

As adults we are all responsible for our actions. Blaming the rehab facility for the young man’s problems is wholly unjustified. If he needs further treatment it is up to him to seek it. If he chooses not to, then he must bear the consequences of his actions.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: December 9, 2016

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