What Is It?

Prescription drug abuse means using a prescription medication in any way other than what your doctor intended. That can include using the medication longer than prescribed, taking larger doses, and taking someone else’s medication. In short: prescription drug abuse means not following the specific directions your doctor gave you for that medication. It’s a bad idea any way you cut it.


Why Is This Important to Me?

Some prescription drugs are addictive if not used as directed. It’s important to know the facts so you can avoid all of the problems that come along with prescription drug abuse. It’s a crisis in the U.S. and prescription drug abuse is on the rise. At least one person dies in Arizona each day because of prescription opioid overdose.


What Could Happen to Me?

Nothing good, that’s for sure. Here are some things that could happen:

  • Mood swings
  • Poor judgment
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fatal seizures
  • Days with no sleep
  • Altered perception of sound and light
  • Death


These are just a few side effects. Visit NIDA for Teens to learn about drug abuse.


Myths about Prescription Drug Abuse


Myth: “If one pill will help with my pain, two will be even better.”

Fact: When you take more than your doctor prescribed, you gamble with your life. In 2016, drug overdoses killed more Americans than car crashes or guns. Stay safe by sticking with what your prescription tells you to do.


Myth: Medicine prescribed by a doctor is not addictive.

Fact: Prescription painkillers affect the brain like heroin and can be just as addictive.


Myth: Taking a stimulant (like my friend’s ADHD medicine) will help me study and I’ll do better on my tests and exams.

Fact: Taking a stimulant that is not prescribed for you can raise your heartbeat to a dangerous level. Studies have shown that stimulants do not increase learning or thinking ability when taken by people who have not been diagnosed with ADHD.


Myth: “It’s fine to take someone else’s prescription medication because if it came from a doctor, it must be safe!”

Fact: You don’t know whether someone else’s prescription will be safe for you, or if taking it could cause harmful, or even fatal, side effects. Also, taking another person’s prescription isn’t just dangerous—it’s illegal.


Drugs and Alcohol: A Recipe for Disaster

Mixing prescription medication with alcohol or illegal drugs can be a deadly cocktail. Prescription drugs and illegal drugs (such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and marijuana) can have a damaging effect on your health, finances, and future. If you are pregnant, they can also permanently harm your baby.


What Can I Do?

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly when it comes to taking prescription medication.
  • Don’t take more than what you need.
  • Never take someone else’s medication!
  • Don’t mix prescription drugs and alcohol or illegal substances.
  • Store prescription drugs in a safe, locked place out of reach of others.
  • Get rid of expired or unnecessary prescription drugs by taking it to a drop-off box. Check out this list to find a drop-off box near you.