Why can’t I take a friend’s/family member’s prescription medication?

It is never safe to take a friend or family member’s prescription medication. When doctors prescribe medicines to their patients, they take many factors into account, including the patient’s age, weight, health history, etc. Even though a friend or family member may have a similar diagnosis, health history, age, or weight, it is still not safe to consume his or her medications, especially now that you are undergoing treatment.

Recreational use and addiction to prescription medications can be boiled down to three different categories:

  • Opioids. These are for pain relief. They include morphine, codeine, OxyContin, Demerol, and Vicodin.
  • Tranquilizers. These are for anxiety and sleep disorders. They include Xanax and Valium.
  • Stimulants. These are for narcolepsy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. They include Adderal, Dexedrine, and Ritalin.

Some users get these drugs from friends or family who have legitimate prescriptions from their physicians or buy purchasing them from other sources.

People who take prescription drugs without their doctors’ approval face many risks:

  • They don’t have information about dosage, side effects, or other risks of use.
  • The medication may interact with another drug they take.
  • Taking the medication or stimulant may be dangerous because of a condition they have, such as asthma or heart disease.
  • Many of the abused drugs, including painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin, are potentially addictive.
  • There’s no guarantee drugs purchased on the Internet are pure, of the stated strength, or manufactured with any quality control.
  • Users, especially teenagers and college students, may not realize the dangers of abusing painkillers and drugs for mental illness. For instance, a student who will take OxyContin or Ritalin may never take a street drug, such as cocaine or heroin.

Signs of addiction include loss of control over taking a medication, hiding pills, obsessively counting them, and finding ways to get more of a medication by making unnecessary emergency room or doctor visits. Other symptoms include taking a drug or medication more often than directed, taking higher doses than instructed, taking it with other drugs or alcohol or, as is often the case with OxyContin, crushing and snorting the pill instead of swallowing it.