:::: RX & Other Drugs


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Remember the 3 Rs for safe medicine use

Respect the power of medicine and use it properly.
Recognize that all medicines, including prescription drugs, have risks along with benefits. The risks tend to increase dramatically when medicines are abused.
Take responsibility for learning how to take prescription drugs safely and appropriately.

Did you know? Taking a prescription drug that was prescribed to a friend or relative is illegal.
Did you know? In a 2009 national survey, 3.1 percent of youth ages 12 to 17 reported nonmedical use of prescription drugs in the past month.
Did you know? Mixing prescription pills with other drugs or alcohol increases your risk of death from accidental overdose.
Sources: SAMHSA, 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health;www.nida.gov
What are some negative health consequences of abusing prescription drugs? – Taking a single large dose of a painkiller can cause severe respiratory depression or death. – Using depressants such as sleeping pills to get high can slow reaction time, impair mental functioning and judgement, cause confusion, dizziness, nausea, and blurred vision. – Taking high doses of a stimulant, such as drugs prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, can cause irregular heartbeat, dangerously high body temperatures, and possible heart failure or seizures.

   Students often get prescription medications from drug dealers on the street.

      Most students don’t need to look any further than their friends, classmates and family. That’s because many of the most abused prescription medications are widely prescribed for legitimate medical conditions are, therefore, readily available. A majority (90%) of students are able to access stimulants from their peers or friends (McCabe et al, 2004). Of undergraduates that are taking stimulant medication under the direction of their doctor, more than half (54%) have been asked to sell, trade or give away their medication in the past year (McCabe et al, 2006).

   It is safer to use prescription drugs to get high rather than using illicit drugs, because they’re prescribed by a doctor or dentist.

     Any use of prescription drugs without a doctor’s recommendation, can be just as dangerous as using other illicit drugs. Improper use can have serious health effects—including addiction and overdose.

   Getting high with over-the-counter drugs like cough or cold medications with dextromethorphan (DMX) is not dangerous.

      Taking more DMX than the recommended dose may cause problems with motor function, numbness, nausea and vomiting, and increase heart rate and blood pressure. It may even cause death.

   Using a relative or friend’s prescription is not abusing the medication.

      Taking another person’s prescription drug is abuse. Taking prescribed medication in a way or dosage other than what was prescribed is abuse.

   Prescription medications are safer to abuse than other illicit substances

      Studies consistently show that teens and young people of college-age think prescription medications are a safer alternative to illicit street drugs like cocaine or heroin. After all, they are FDA approved and many have seen their moms, dads, grandparents and other family members take these very same medications under their doctor’s care to treat a variety of illnesses. So, how bad can they be? Very. When misused or taken without a doctor’s prescription, these drugs can be just as harmful as illegal street drugs. Taking these medications together with alcohol or other drugs—as many college students do to amplify or “cancel out” their effects—can have grave and possibly deadly consequences. It’s a slippery slope. Research shows that students who take prescription drugs for non-medical reasons are at least five times more likely to develop a drug abuse problem than those who don’t (McCabe, 2008). So when academic and social pressures mount, encourage your friends and peers to keep it together and find healthy ways to deal with stress and avoid peer pressure. When talking to them, you might say: Prescription drugs are very powerful medications. If you take these medications inappropriately or without a prescription, there is no telling how they may affect you. Abusing these drugs can stop your heart, your breathing or both. Bottom line: The abuse of prescription drugs is every bit as dangerous as abusing other substances. They do NOT offer a safe way to get high, cope with stress or perform better at school or on the field.

   Unlike underage binge drinking and marijuana use, misusing and sharing prescription medications is legal.

     Many students may not realize that they are doing anything wrong if they pop a friend’s Percocet (a pain reliever) to relieve a headache or take Adderall (a stimulant) to cram for exams all night. But using these medications, many of which are considered controlled substances, without a doctor’s prescription or misusing someone else’s prescription is always harmful, not to mention illegal. Only a doctor or pharmacist can legally give you these medications. If you take a prescription for a legitimate medical reason, don’t share these medications with anyone, regardless of the reason. You could unknowingly be putting your friends at risk if you share your medicine. So, keep your medications in a safe and secure spot. If a college roommate sprains his/her ankle and pleads with you for a Percocet, or perhaps asks for an Adderall or Ritalin to pull a dreaded all nighter, stay strong. Instead of “sharing” a pain reliever, make sure your friend sees a healthcare professional for care.

   Everyone is doing it.

     When asked, most college students tend to overestimate their peers’ non-medical use of prescription drugs. This might actually make it more likely for some students to justify engaging in this behavior; they might think, “Hey, no big deal, everyone is doing it and these drugs are safe anyway.” The reality is that most college students know it’s not worth the risk to misuse or abuse prescription medications. Only one in four people aged 18 to 20 report using these medications nonmedically at least once in their lives. But it is a growing issue on campus and the pressure to take these medications is real. By students’ sophomore year in college, about half of their classmates will have been offered the opportunity to abuse a prescription drug (NSDUH, 2008; Arria, 2008)


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