Prescription drugs sound safe.
THEY’VE BEEN STUDIED AND HAVE RECEIVED FDA APPROVAL. SO WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
The problem is that prescription drugs (and even over-the-counter medications) are designed to perform a specific function on a specific condition. When used recreationally (to get high), these drugs can have many negative, even toxic, effects on the user.
This pamphlet is important for all college students, whether you have medications or have considered taking them for fun. This will help you understand the risks of abusing prescription drugs. It will also provide tips for keeping drugs you have been prescribed safe.
KEEPING MEDICATIONS SAFE
WHETHER YOU ARE CURRENTLY ON MEDICATIONS, OR MAY TAKE SOME IN THE FUTURE, THERE ARE SEVERAL THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND TO REDUCE THEFT AND DRUG ABUSE.
Never give or sell your medications to others. This is especially true with powerful prescription drugs. The medication is designed to help with your particular ailment. Follow all the doctor’s directions, and if you have leftover pills, dispose of them properly. (See the section, “Disposing of Medications.”)
Keep medications in a secure place, preferably a locked box or cabinet. This is especially important if you live in a residence hall or shared house where others may have access to your space.
Keep track of how much medication you have left. You may want to keep a tally of how many pills are left in the bottle so that you can detect any potential theft.
Disposing of Medications
What should you do with unused or expired medications?
First, check the label and/or instructions to see if there are disposal guidelines for the particular drug. If so, follow those. If not, continue down this list.
Second, check to see if there are any community prescription drug “take-back” programs. These programs are organized as a safe way to get rid of the leftover drugs in your home. Contact your county trash or recycling provider and ask if there is a “take-back” option available.
If there are no such programs in your community, you will need to throw the medications in the trash:
Take the drugs out of their original packaging and place in a bag.
Destroy or thoroughly mark out all of your identifying information on the prescription label. This will help protect you from identity theft.
Mix the drugs with an undesirable substance, such as rotten produce or pet waste. Then, seal the bag. This will decrease the likelihood of someone retrieving the pills from the trash.
If possible, hide the drugs well within the dumpster or trash container. Again, this will reduce the chances of the pills being stolen.
Legal Drugs, Illegal Uses
Though they are legal, the Drug Enforcement Administration classifies prescription drugs as controlled substances. The possession and use of them by someone other than the prescription recipient are illegal.
In Missouri, illegal possession of prescription drugs is a class C felony.
All prescription drugs must be kept in the original prescription container. If you do not keep them in the original container, the burden is on you to prove you had a legal prescription. Fraudulently attempting to obtain a controlled substance is a class D felony. This includes providing false information to obtain a prescription, claiming to be a physician or authorized person, and forging prescriptions or drug labels.
It is illegal to distribute prescription drugs to anyone. This includes giving drugs to a friend. In addition, it is a class A felony to distribute a controlled substance within 2,000 feet of any school. Missouri colleges and universities are included in the law.
Driving under the influence of prescription drugs could lead to a DWI arrest if the drug impairs your ability to drive safely. Mixing prescription drugs with alcohol or other substances can also lead to arrest.
Common Drugs and Effects
Though there are many types of prescription drugs, the ones most commonly abused fall into three categories: stimulants, depressants, and painkillers. The chart below provides examples of drugs in each category, their effects, and associated dangers.
|Elevated blood pressure, restlessness, increased heart rate, anxiety, hostility||High fever, convulsions, heart failure, excessive strain on the heart, death|
|Intoxication, slurred speech, lowered blood pressure, loss of motor coordination, poor concentration, confusion||Slowed breathing, impairment while driving, depression, sudden withdrawal can cause convulsions and delirium|
Fentanyl, Opium, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan)
|Drowsiness, poor concentration, apathy, nausea, vomiting, constipation||High risk for addiction, respiratory depression|