Protect Your Prescription!
Did you know that prescription medications are among the most abused substances in the United States? The average age when prescription drug abuse starts is approximately 21. According to the National Council on Patient Information and Education, about 50% of college students will have the opportunity to abuse a prescription drug by their sophomore year. In addition, most people who abuse prescription medications get them from family or friends. You can help to prevent misuse or abuse by others by storing your medications securely and properly disposing of them when they are no longer needed.
It’s illegal to share your medications with friends or be in possession of someone else’s prescription, regardless of the reasons. According to federal law, prescription stimulants such as Adderall/Ritalin are “Schedule II” controlled substances. If convicted of possessing a controlled substance without a prescription (which is a felony) or distributing a controlled substance to someone else, this could greatly alter your chances of getting a job in the future. Also, if you share your prescription medications with others, you could be liable if that person is harmed. Emergency department visits related to prescription drug abuse now exceed those relating to illicit “street” drugs. Plan for what you will say if someone asks for your medication. You could say: “I’m almost out” or “I’m worried you’ll react badly.”
Many students assume that because a medication is prescribed by a doctor and approved by the FDA, it is inherently safer than an illicit drug – even to abuse. However, prescription drugs are not necessarily inherently safer than illegal drugs. Prescription medications can have potentially dangerous side effects, and the risk of these may increase when different substances are taken together. Drugs like Adderall can interact with other medications, alcohol, illegal drugs, other substances, or even food and drinks. For example, the “upper” effects of Adderall may be increased when taken with other substances with stimulant properties. Adderall may also counteract the effects of high blood pressure medications, may decrease the blood concentrations of certain anti-seizure medicines and may increase the risk of toxicity of certain antidepressants. In addition to safety concerns, research shows that non-medical use of prescription stimulants doesn’t boost academic performance and is actually associated with lower grades. Using someone else’s prescription medication is not worth the risk!
National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (www.cdc.gov); National Council on Patient Information and Education (www.talkaboutrx.org); Monitoring the Future; (Social Research Center, Institute for Social research, University of Michigan) (www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/ICPSR/series/00035)