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Playing With / Dr. Feelgood

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Basic Trope: A doctor or other medical professional who prescribes/provides addictive or dangerous prescription drugs in an unethical manner, knowing the drugs will be abused or diverted.

  • Straight:
    • A doctor writes any client who can pay (or whose insurance can pay) prescriptions for addictive or dangerous prescription drugs.
    • A doctor turns a blind eye to a patient seeking addictive or dangerous drugs who is obviously an addict or obviously does not have the disease they exist to treat.
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    • A psychiatrist prescribes patients pills such as amphetamines and benzodiazipines before considering other forms of therapy for their conditions.
    • A doctor knowingly diverts drugs to his or her own possession, for later use or trade or sale.
    • Truth in Television, at least for those who can say Screw the Rules, I Have Money!, and sometimes even outside of that.
  • Exaggerated:
    • The doctor literally hands the pills out like candy, without even bothering with prescriptions or medical exams or anything else - he or she may as well be a street dealer working out of a medical office. He or she may not even be a real "doctor," just someone with access to the drugs in the medical setting.
    • The doctor's very first response when someone comes in for care is to prescribe them a cocktail of methamphetamine and morphine, because he or she believes speedballs cure anything.
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    • Everyone always parties at the doctor's mansion because they know he or she has the best drugs in town.
  • Downplayed:
    • The doctor occasionally writes a questionable sleeping pill or painkiller or stimulant script for himself or someone else, but doesn't make a regular business of it.
    • The doctor only misuses the drugs himself or herself, and tries to keep it somewhat of a secret.
    • The doctor is willing to occasionally give some prescriptions for the occasional non-medicinally necessary but useful as tools but puts his foot down at signs of actual addiction or dependence and insists upon proper treatment. His patients are to use the drugs, not have the drugs use them.
  • Justified:
    • The place in which the doctor lives has very strict drug controls, and the doctor knows that the drug, despite being addictive or dangerous in some cases, is the best treatment he or she can offer a patient. This can be Truth in Television in some instances, as well. (In at least one example, a psychiatrist prescribed suboxone - a synthetic heroin analog - for a patient with severe treatment-resistant depression and chronic pain for which no antidepressant/antipsychotic combination was effective, because the reasoning was that a managed opiate addiction was better than the patient committing suicide. It wasn't even as crazy as it might sound - opiates do have an antidepressant effect and are the most effective of painkillers.)
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    • Similarly, the doctor knows the patient is an addict but believes in managed treatment or harm reduction, and would rather provide the patient with their opiates or stimulants in a way he or she can try to supervise and make less dangerous for the patient than street acquisition. Also can be Truth in Television, with such things as methadone or suboxone management for heroin addicts and transitioning stimulant addicts who are self-medicating ADHD or similar to set-dosage pills rather than injection.
    • The doctor is trying to make a point that an allegedly dangerous drug isn't as dangerous as claimed and is willing to face the consequences for doing so.
    • When depicted as Truth in Television in some instances.
  • Inverted: The doctor believes Drugs Are Bad to the point of Black and White Insanity, and refuses to even prescribe a small dosage of painkillers to a cancer patient screaming in pain or even a laxative to a patient who hasn't had a bowel movement in a week, instead screaming at them to "toughen up."
  • Subverted: A doctor refuses to prescribe to an obvious drug addict who appears to be faking symptoms just to get the drugs.
  • Double Subverted: The patient actually does have the illness the drug would help, and their "fake" symptoms were actually real and so overwhelming that they were Mistaken for Junkie.
  • Parodied:
    • The doctor is a sketchy, stereotypical Back-Alley Doctor with a sign advertising all of the drugs he or she has available with their prices next to them.
    • Anytime the doctor appears, the eponymous Mötley Crüe song plays.
  • Zig Zagged: The doctor is actually a normal, professional doctor who would never think of doing such things... until a tragic loss of a patient, a massive malpractice suit, his or her practice losing patients due to Malicious Slander and bad press that he or she is a Deadly Doctor. Unable to sustain a legitimate practice after this, and entirely disillusioned with medicine, he or she becomes Dr. Feelgood, dispensing painkillers and speed and sleeping pills as if they were candy. He/she sucks at being a drug dealer, and an arrest soon happens. While in prison, he/she has a moment of What Have I Done, undergoes rehab, and somehow on release becomes the first to petition for reinstatment of his/her medical license and reopens a legitimate practice in another state. Then someone finds out about the past...
  • Averted: The doctor is a normal, professional doctor who does not prescribe inappropriately, unless, perhaps, upholding the Hippocratic Oath over the law demands it.
  • Enforced:
    • In any depiction where this is Truth in Television.
    • To maintain verisimilitude in some depictions of the medical profession, where diverting at least for oneself happens in Real Life.
  • Lampshaded:
    • "I'm going to give you a script for Desoxyn, that is what we call methamphetamine. Whatever you do, do not crush it up and inject it or snort it. Okay?"
    • "Why don't you just call up your doctor, it would be easier than finding a dealer!"
  • Invoked:
    • Someone is shown with prescriptions they absolutely should not have.
    • Someone mentions going to the doctor to get their fix.
  • Exploited:
    • To show just how unethical the doctor is.
    • To make a statement about drug laws in one way or another.
    • To show a character as an addict, whether Functional Addict or Off the Wagon.
  • Defied:
    • A doctor with a failing practice and deeply in debt refuses to become Dr. Feelgood, even though he or she knows doing so would be a way out of the problems.
    • A patient refuses the overprescribing or the drug and finds another doctor that will offer non-drug or more responsible drug treatments for their illness. Can be Truth in Television, often in the fields of pain management or psychiatry, because there are overprescribing doctors or doctors who prescribe before other solutions/prescribe the wrong drugs in both.
  • Discussed:
    • "I think you have too many pills here. Are you sure you even know what you're taking them for?" "Does it matter?"
    • "I know this really good doctor who will prescribe anything you want for a price." "Oh? What's his number?"
  • Conversed:
  • Implied:
    • A doctor is shown having lost his license/become a Back-Alley Doctor due to "overprescribing" or drug law violations.
    • A line of patients is outside a shady-looking doctor's office or pain clinic or in a waiting room ... all of them looking like stereotypical junkies.
    • Someone rich is shown with a medicine cabinet featuring tons of pills and other medications, and to be undergoing bad side effects from them.
  • Deconstructed:
    • The patients die from accidents, overdoses, and other issues related to untreated addictions to the drugs.
    • The patients are suffering extreme symptoms of toxicity and side effects.
    • The doctor is arrested or sued or otherwise legally disciplined for engaging in such behavior.
  • Reconstructed:
    • As in the sometimes Truth in Television examples above, the doctor is trying to do his or her best to care for patients even if the law says otherwise.
    • No one really suffers bad effects even though the doctor is totally irresponsible, the user patients actually are not: they are Functional Addicts or otherwise managing their conditions themselves, using the Dr. Feelgood to maintain stable supplies and avoid risk, or they are not hardcore addicts despite the drugs being addictive - only using them for fun or temporary utility, making sure it goes no further than that.
    • The doctor is trying to fund his or her care for the poor and unable to pay or a research project or something else that takes a lot of money by being a Dr. Feelgood to the rich, in a case of being a Robin Hood and believing The End Justifies The Means.
  • Played For Laughs: The doctor's clients show joy from drugs that wouldn't be remotely recreationally useful or abusable like low doses of statins..

Here's your prescriptions for amphetamines and morphine and some sleeping pills too. Now go back to Dr. Feelgood.
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