What Are Pill Mills?

Florida 2007-2014

A “pill mill” is a doctor’s office, clinic, or health care facility that routinely conspires in the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances outside the scope of the prevailing standards of medical practice in the community – or violates the laws of the state of Florida, regarding the prescribing or dispensing of controlled prescription drugs.

I had a conversation with Steered Straight Florida’s director, Maureen Kielian, and she opened up about her personal struggles, as much as she opened up about her passionate beliefs.

In the midst of our conversation, Maureen expressed her concern, right off the bat: “The overdose percentage in Florida is 30% higher, since the height of the “pill mills” operation.” Also, she finds it completely appalling that a “pill mill” physician is allowed to continue their practice of medicine, for up to 2 and a half years, until their case “may” be heard by the FL medical boards. Citizen complaints are routinely dismissed. Even after their case is finished, they get a “slap on the wrist,” then go back to their office, distributing more pills for their patients to get addicted to. Very few license revocations or suspensions occur in FL.

“Nothing can be abused, UNTIL AFTER IT IS PRESCRIBED,” Maureen expressed many times, with such angst and matter-of-fact in her tone of voice. Honestly, she is right. As she continued on with her personal belief’s, I couldn’t help but incessantly concur. People who aren’t completely in the know of the corruption of the “pill mills,” are quick to dismiss the physician, blaming the patient’s addiction solely on the patient. After all, the physician knows best, right? After all, they have the degree to show for it, right? Wrong. Since when was there a degree in becoming the lead physician of a “pill mill”? And why do physicians continue to this day, to over prescribe narcotics, when data shows that the risks far outweigh the benefits?

Maureen urges, “STOP BLAMING THE PATIENT.” Continuing with, “Why are we being told to lock up our medicine cabinets? NO! Why are we even prescribed these dangerous, excessive amounts of pills, in order for us to feel as if we SHOULD lock up our medicine cabinets?” Well, guess what, Maureen? I agree with that statement 100%, and there are thousands more who can coincide with that statement, as well. Ultimately, the message Maureen wants spread all over the world, as she participates in silent strikes, is: “Addiction should be treated like chest pain. Every single time someone walks into a hospital, the stigma of addiction makes one discriminate. Even though they have a disease, it doesn’t make them less important than a person with chest pain. A patient with chest pains are walking into the hospital, fearing death. In retrospect, an addict is walking into a hospital fearing the same thing – both expecting help. How can you keep one, but then let the other go, knowing they could die?”

Broward County 2007-2014

Maureen started talking about her son, who has been battling with addiction for years, and I couldn’t help but sympathize. Beings her son, John, has a father who battled addiction, she knew the chances of him repeating his dad’s history was very likely. Maureen tried everything in her power, from: signing John up for basketball, to urging him on the swim team…he was great at swimming, but John still felt inadequate. Much to Maureen’s dismay, he ultimately succumbed to the monster of addiction’s persuasion. John started smoking marijuana and attending “pill parties.” Before long, he was a full-blown addict. Little did Maureen know at this time, that FOUR “pill mills” were located within ONE MiLE of their home. Eventually, John realized he should get help – which led to a relapse, a dangerous detox, and a hiking trip that started in Georgia and ended in Maine (Appalachian Trail Thru Hiker).

NAS 2007-2014

Proudly, John conquered his addiction to pills, but shortly after his hiking trip, he started to abuse alcohol. Not long after his alcohol addiction became full-blown, John relapsed on pills again. FINALLY, John surrendered, and traded in the drugs for Suboxone. Maureen reported that John hasn’t gone back to drugs, since initiation of suboxone 3weeks ago.

– Jessica Osborn




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