Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


How do people order Vicodin online without getting arrested?
May 9, 2007 3:58 PM   Subscribe

I just watched an episode of Intervention where the woman was addicted to Vicodin. How does one go about ordering vicodin off of the internet without being arrested?

This woman ordered lots and lots of Vicodin off of the internet. How did she do this without getting in trouble? It seems to me that she should have gotten caught somehow. Am I wrong?

Also, this woman seemed to be in fine health, with the exception of desperatly needing Vicodin. Does anyone know someone who was addicted to Vicodin? What does it/can it do to you?

I was just sort of taken offgaurd at how easily this woman was able to order this drug online with seemingly no legal consequences.
posted by thebrokenmuse to Law & Government (29 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I just don't understand why these people aren't being arrested. I mean, they are giving their address out on the internet, wouldn't it be easy to find out who they are and arrest them?
posted by thebrokenmuse at 4:16 PM on May 9, 2007


Haha, I do not WANT illegal vicodin. I just want to know why there isn't a better system in place for arresting people who do order it off the internet since they are proving their name and adress.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 4:26 PM on May 9, 2007


Well, I think it's a perfectly valid question. I would love to read a nice, non-sensationalized, piece of investigative journalism about online pharmacies, particularly addressing how they handle prescriptions of dubious providence, etc. A Google search sure as hell doesn't easily reveal anything like that (just lots of ads for....online pharmacies.)
posted by mr_roboto at 4:26 PM on May 9, 2007


The people who are in charge of such things probably have better things to do than track down a soccer mom popping a few Vicodin.

Also, who would tell the police? Certainly not her, and certainly not the people she's buying from. So either the government would have to be eavesdropping on the order, or some other third party would have to find out and hand the lady over to the police.

As to what it can do to you: Vicodin is an opiate. It is physically addicting. It will get you high.
posted by falconred at 4:29 PM on May 9, 2007


Haha, I do not WANT illegal vicodin. I just want to know why there isn't a better system in place for arresting people who do order it off the internet since they are proving their name and adress.

Then the question should not have been "How does one go about ordering vicodin off of the internet without being arrested?"

It should have been "Why isn't there a better system in place for arresting people who order Vicodin off the internet since they are proving their name and address?"

The answer to that question is that generally drug law enforcement in the United States is shoddy and unevenly handled, and that anytime government and technology interact, the least desirable outcome is virtually guaranteed -- in this case, lack of satisfactory enforcement.
posted by The World Famous at 4:30 PM on May 9, 2007


Online pharmacies often have you "consult" with a "doctor" who prescribes you your drug. Consult usually means an email or possibly a chat window and I guess they probably are doctors but then again, who knows? They don't all operate illegally, they take advantage of they current drug law for their current location, but they are all definitely sketchy.

Should people be allowed to take Vicodin if they want to, with or without a doctor's permission?

How much do you trust a random person on the internet to sell you safe chemicals?
posted by idledebonair at 4:55 PM on May 9, 2007


FDA FAQ on on-line pharmacies
there are at least 400 web sites that both dispense and offer a prescribing service [...] some online practitioners issue prescriptions in the absence of a physical examination or direct medical supervision. According to the American Medical Association, a health care professional who offers a prescription for a patient the practitioner has never seen before and based solely on an online questionnaire generally has not met the appropriate medical standard of care.
My guess is she was doing business with multiple outfits operating on this basis.

So far as my googling tells me, federal law requires pharmacies to keep records on all controlled substance prescriptions filled for 2 years, but I don't see any sign of there being a mechanism to audit all of these records to see if an individual is buying too much of something.

(If you could find n doctors you could convince to write a vicodin prescription for your back pain, and filled the prescriptions at n pharmacies, paying cash, you could do much the same off-line.)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 5:12 PM on May 9, 2007


Why is there this judgmental atmosphere about AskMe questions? It is not illegal to ask how to get Vicodin. If you know the answer, or have any suggestions, offer them up; if you don't feel good about informing someone about it, then don't.

BTW, these guys say they have Vicodin without a prescription. I have not tried them myself.
posted by iconjack at 5:39 PM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, if it's anything like the prescription drugs a shady friend bought off the internet, then they're shipped from El Salvador or something and are luckily not caught by customs. Yes, some of those emails advertising prescription drugs for cash actually work, and they're offshore. Yes, I know someone who is not that bright about online purchases.
posted by mikeh at 5:48 PM on May 9, 2007


As far as the dangers, I've been told Brett Favre (Football Quarterback) dug through his own poop looking for left over pills. Which would make me think its pretty addictive.
posted by drezdn at 6:04 PM on May 9, 2007


I know someone who was addicted to Vicodin. He is a doctor, so he didn't really have any trouble getting it. He was taking several pills a day for many months. Then, he just stopped. I'm sure it's a bit like nicotine addiction--some people can just go cold turkey and be done with it while others can never beat there addiction no matter what they try. And everything in between, of course.
posted by iconjack at 6:08 PM on May 9, 2007


I don't know about ordering vicodin online, but it is pretty easy to order prescription meds online in general. I have a "friend" who has ordered a prescription diet drug online with no problems whatsoever. The patient is asked to state their condition, and they are taken at their word. So it is very easy to say one is unusually overweight and unusually short in order to meet the criteria. The way vicodin and other pain meds are treated at online pharmacies might be different, my "friend" has never dabbled in pain killers or sedatives.
posted by necessitas at 6:47 PM on May 9, 2007


When a friend had strep throat and no health insurance he got some antibiotics off the net without any trouble.
I can't remember what the customs tag said, but it wasn't anything even close to accurate.

So I guess the standard for ordering pills online is they send them to you mislabeled, and you only get caught if that just happens to be the package customs investigates further.
posted by Kellydamnit at 7:08 PM on May 9, 2007


(oh, and I know some antibiotics are a far cry from narcotics, but the same place sold those, too, so I would assume the procedure is the same).
posted by Kellydamnit at 7:09 PM on May 9, 2007


Wow I am surprised this is still here. Call me judgmental. Actually, no, JessaMatTex are the judgmental ones. And in their judgment, it stays. So I will add my 5 mg.

I have wondered the same thing, being a regular Intervention viewer, and the other answers have it. It's really not that hard, but as with anything illegal, you risk getting caught. (Not you... "you.") You also risk getting fake drugs, dangerously manufactured drugs, and getting ripped off. I wouldn't want to give my credit card info to a company that makes money by breaking the law, or at least bending it.

On the practical side, internet-bought opiates are much more expensive than legitimately prescribed ones, which are covered by insurance. In my case, I have a prescription for Percoset, a similar drug, and my co-pay is less than $10 for 200. I'm sure the online "pharmacies" charge much more for the, uh, convenience.

As with any powerful drug, it can improve the lives of those who legitimately need it, and it can destroy the lives of those who do not need it, but use it for "fun." As Intervention shows, there's really not much fun involved.
posted by The Deej at 7:30 PM on May 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


So I guess the standard for ordering pills online is they send them to you mislabeled, and you only get caught if that just happens to be the package customs investigates further.

The online pharmacies that I am familiar with are in this country. I have no idea where the web pharmacy management company is registered, but the pills are shipped from independent drug stores in South Florida. Typically Superior Drugs in Miami.
posted by necessitas at 7:40 PM on May 9, 2007


Let's not confuse gettin recreational narcotics off the internet w/ gettin my needed prescription drugs cheaper from Canada (via the internet). The latter is something I have done when the insane schemes of big pharma/my insurance co. necessitated. A valuable resource, though one whose days may be numbered. (Too tired for linkage, sorry.)
posted by flotson at 8:07 PM on May 9, 2007


Also, this woman seemed to be in fine health, with the exception of desperatly needing Vicodin. Does anyone know someone who was addicted to Vicodin? What does it/can it do to you?

The Tylenol will destroy your liver. You'll seem fine up to the point where your liver dies and you follow soon after.

The opiate part of the drug will create nasty physical dependencies, resulting in you pawning everything you own to pay these foreign pharmacies their loanshark prices.

Happy?
posted by unixrat at 8:27 PM on May 9, 2007


Sorry, "you". I didn't mean to snark.
posted by unixrat at 8:28 PM on May 9, 2007


You might find this story interesting. The reporter was curious just like you and did some investigating.
posted by Serena at 8:56 PM on May 9, 2007


It is about as easy to get drugs from an online pharmacy as it is from a real pharmacy. It involves: deception and balls.

To get Vicodin or any drug from a doctor, you first want to go to a blue collar doctor. Why? Because blue collar workers get blue collar injuries, ergo the doctors are more likely to hand out pain pills. Plus such doctors are usually understaffed, under-equipped and if you bitch enough they'll write you whatever you want. Wash, rinse, repeat and you have 4 or 5 scripts for 2x refills on drug of your choice.

BUT ITS NOT OVER! Pharmacists are going to catch this. They don't want drug abusers in their pharmacy because getting audited is terrible. I am not saying that doctors are easier to fool, but that this is a multiple-con job and certain things you can do to fool doctors won't work on pharmacists and vice versa. Most pharmacies are chains and chains keep all their data in a central computer, for convenience. They can see every location and every drug you ordered in the last 24 months. If you come in with different prescriptions from different doctors on a frequent basis, it sets up all kinds of red flags. And pharmacists do notice.

Aside: There was one tale I was told of a man stealing his doctor's pad and his doctor's DEA number (quite a feat). He was writing himself cough syrup prescriptions for literally months, when one time, by accident, the prescription was lost and they had to call up the doctor's office for a prescription confirmation. After some confusion a sting was setup (which sounds much more NYPD Blue than it really is, a cop waits at the door, they get the prescription and the cop arrests them on the way out).

Now if you're a major addict it would make sense to get the highest opiate prescription you can get and just tease off that. Soccer mom on Intervention probably doesn't realize she can be getting Oxycotin or the handful of other opiates that are stronger than Vicodin and get the same kick for less work. I digress.

This is, however, where online pharmacies come in. As the article states, they are for the most part on the up and up. The ones not on the up and up are fly by night, unreliable, and not an addicts choice. The ones who require a valid prescription (which you do have!) aren't going to be as careful as a real pharmacy chain. Even if they are you have at least a dozen others that aren't going to cross check with each other. It is a lot easier to fax a prescription to a dozen pharmacies than to be driving around town.

So that's how you do it. It will still require you to go to your doctor and get a prescription out of him. And then using that prescription with a pharmacy. Online pharmacies just facilitate those who are real addicts and have multiple doctors with multiple prescriptions. Teens wanting Xanax for the weekend are going to find ti more trouble than it is worth. Moms probably can't even get weed, they don't have the best dealers. To put it simply: Ordering online is not a shortcut, at least not anymore. If you're ordering drugs online you're already at the point where you know how to game the system and are doing it at a sophisticated level.

All these scare stories are sort of a joke (except possibly steroids, as those are scheduled differently and it is hard to fool a doctor into prescribing a healthy male steroids). People have been conning doctors since prescriptions were invented. There's probably a half a dozen ways to get high with anyone with the most rudimentary connections that are exponentially easier and less dangerous than this.
posted by geoff. at 9:50 PM on May 9, 2007


Oh sorry, I forgot to add: nothing against blue collar doctors or blue collar workers. Dr. Upper East Side isn't likely to see many cases of hard to diagnose back injuries due to heavy lifting, or insert your own hard-to-diagnose-chronic-pain.
posted by geoff. at 9:53 PM on May 9, 2007


The Tylenol will destroy your liver. You'll seem fine up to the point where your liver dies and you follow soon after.

The opiate part of the drug will create nasty physical dependencies, resulting in you pawning everything you own to pay these foreign pharmacies their loanshark prices.

Happy?


I do have to digress. Of anything to be addicted to, opiates are probably the least harmful physically. I would chose it over cocaine or alcohol any day. Yes the Tylenol is not good for your liver, but with the right dosage you probably are looking at what a liver of a moderate drinker. And we all know those are sort of hit or miss in terms of long-term health effects. Plus a $200-300 prescription habit isn't really "pawning everything you have" unless you're poor. And then everyone notices your addiction and thus poverty is associated with drug addiction.

While I'm not saying that prescription drug abuse is in every other house dotting suburbia, I think you'd be surprised (at least 2-3% above what is reported) on the use of momma's little helper and momma's little stress reliever.
posted by geoff. at 9:59 PM on May 9, 2007


(oh, and I know some antibiotics are a far cry from narcotics, but the same place sold those, too, so I would assume the procedure is the same).

Maybe that website did, but most of the online pharmacies I've seen do not dispense controlled substances.
posted by Violet Hour at 10:21 PM on May 9, 2007


Seconding geoff. While you might think that it should be easy to catch these people, and it would be, the fact is that the DEA has far, far bigger problems to worry about than a suburban soccer mom ordering some pills without prescription. Not to stray too far off-topic, this is a result of having more laws than you can possibly enforce in good faith and an argument for making vicodin and codeine cough syrup available OTC.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 8:08 AM on May 10, 2007


So that's how you do it. It will still require you to go to your doctor and get a prescription out of him. And then using that prescription with a pharmacy. Online pharmacies just facilitate those who are real addicts and have multiple doctors with multiple prescriptions.

No, that isn't how you do it. Yes, there are online pharmacies that are legit in the sense that they do require you to fax a prescription to them and then they fill it. Like drugstore.com or the Canadian pharmacies, etc. I know why people use the canadian pharmacies, but I don't have any idea why people use drugstore.com. Maybe it is cheaper? Not sure, but that is not how/where people are going about ordering things like vicodin (viagra, stimulents, xanax, etc.) online. Where they are going, they don't have to get prescriptions out of their doctors and their addictions aren't being facilitated through a blind eye to those who have multiple doctors and multiple prescriptions.

These online pharmacies provide prescriptions from an" internet doctor" based on a little symptoms survey that the "online patient" fills out. A few states require doctors to provide a physical exam and not phone/internet exam, and these pharmacies just don't ship to those states. There is no running around to find doctors who believe you have whatever it is that supports a prescription for the meds you want and no faxing/mailing prescriptions in.

I am not sure how/why the government hasn't cracked down on these pharmacies. I suspect that it does have something to do with a loophole that allows doctors in many states to prescribe to patients without providing a physical exam. Maybe restricting that would mean that doctors couldn't prescribe a vaild medication to a patient who called at midnight, or an extra round of antibiotics to the patient who calls and says the first course didn't do the trick. Or any other scenario where they doctor calls in a prescription based on a non-physical consultation. I suppose they can change the laws to restrict the medications doctors in those states can prescribe over the phone, but maybe there are actual valid scenarios where the doctor needs to prescribe a pain medication or controlled substance without providing a physical examination. Who knows. This is just speculation as to why these pharmacies are allowed to operate, but they have been operating for at least 8 years with little more than a "warning" from the government.
posted by necessitas at 8:58 AM on May 10, 2007


There's always this knee-jerk just-say-no response to AskMe drug questions. I'd just like say that if people buys drugs from a country where they are legally sold without a prescription, then I don't think that person should be considered some kind of pariah. US laws don't apply outside the US. If it's legal where they bought them, I just don't see the horror.

I've taken (prescribed) Percocet recreationally. It made me high sort of like pot does, and it made my forearms crazy itchy for no apparent reason. If I took it two days in a row the second time it wouldn't have any effect.
posted by loiseau at 11:05 AM on May 10, 2007


In Canada people go doctor shopping. Walk-in clinics are particularly apt to throw antibiotics or T3s at you, and there's no record sharing.

As far as in-person fraud goes, pharmacies here need hand-written prescriptions faxed to them for any controlled substances, which is obnoxtious when a person has been on the same thing for years (say a few T3s a month for migraines) and needs a refill. Oddly, downers like lorazempam can just be called in, and usually that just involves leaving a message on a machine. You can get pills that contain small amounts of codeine over the counter, and apparently it's easy to extract the codeine.

As for what addiction does to you, I've seen people go on disability because they're on anti-depressants, and I've seen people run businesses and be otherwise "happy and successful" while hiding a heroin addiction.
posted by sarahkeebs at 5:35 AM on May 11, 2007


opiates are probably the least harmful physically

I would probably agree. When I discussed by pain management with my doctor, I asked if it was better to take 1 or 2 percosets instead of 4 or 8 ibuprofren. He said yes. I also asked if there could be any long term bad side effects, apart from possibility of addiciton. He said no.

Now... this is in regards to purely physical symptoms. But do not dismiss the destructive power of addiction. It can result in mental and physical anguish, depression, social withdrawal, and even poverty. For some people, a couple hundred dollars a month is the difference between paying the mortgage or not.

The worst part of addiction is that, what you did before to feel "good," you now have to do to feel "normal." And if you stop, you feel horrible.
posted by The Deej at 6:38 AM on May 11, 2007


« Older How can we fix an ages-old fam...   |  Photo Booth won't open because... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.