prescriptioncrpdWhen we think about a drug dealer often times we think of street drugs.  But, these days a whole new drug dealer is around town, and that drug dealer is a pharmaceutical drug dealer.  And I am not talking about psychiatrists that have relationships with pharmaceutical companies and over prescribe drugs to their clients for financial gain, I am talking about the clients.

We know that med compliancy is a challenge when treating the mentally ill.  Whether it’s an auditory hallucination that tells someone not to take a medication or, they choose not to take a medication on their own, helping a mentally ill person to take their meds, and stay on them, can be a challenge.

However, now we have a new challenge on the horizon: 

The mentally ill client that has easy access to medication, and turns around and flips them, for money.

We live in financially hard times and sometimes we find ourselves doing things to make ends meet that in the past would never even cross our minds.  I’ve seen firsthand mentally ill individuals that get their meds, don’t take them, and sell them.  A Vicodin on the street these days can go for five dollars.  A bottle of Percocet can be seamless money. 

When I worked in a psych ward in Los Angeles County I met patients that would get their prescription, sell them on the street, then end up back in the ward with access to a whole new bottle. Or, bottles I should say. Snorting Seroquel or Wellbutrin was the thing to do in Skid Row.  Rich kids are hooked on pharmaceutical meds as well, and they too have easy access.  The New Drug Dealer with a handful of Valium might be more popular at a party than the conventional drug dealer that sells marijuana or cocaine.   Even worse, a lot of these kids are raiding their parent’s medicine cabinet and selling them so they can get a new Gucci bag, hence, the parent becomes an accidental secondary drug dealer.

Parents should be alert to the New Drug Dealer. They might be your kid, they might be your friend, they might be on your block. We have to have better checks and balances in place to avoid the rise of the New Drug Dealer.  The pharmaceutical drug dealer.  And with the rapid availability of pharmaceutical drugs these days, the numbers are rising.

What do we do?

Girl offering pills photo available from Shutterstock



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    Last reviewed: 22 Mar 2013

APA Reference
Loberg, E. (2013). The New Drug Dealer. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 2, 2015, from


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