It is no secret that America is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. At the root of the problem is pharmaceuticals and people who are being prescribed medications and aren’t aware of the risks. It goes well beyond opioids too, with benzos, sleeping medicines, and even ADD and ADHD medication is a problem. The problem begins when a doctor prescribes a medication to you without properly explaining the risks. Sharing medication brings it to a new level, because people of all ages are seeking out medication against doctor’s advice, and often don’t even know what they are taking. While it may seem harmless to give your friend some Xanax for an upcoming flight or a Vicodin for a persistent back pain, medication should always be left to the doctors. Even then it can be a problem.
Sharing Medication Leads to Addiction, Overdose, and Death
Prescription medication is a big issue with teenagers and young adults. They will often seek out medicine from friends, family members, or their friend’s parents to have drugs to bring to parties and create a grab bag. This is super dangerous because many medications and pharmaceutical can’t be mixed. For example, if a young teen were to take a benzo and a sleeping aid at the same time, this could prove to be lethal, especially when mixed with alcohol, as is often done at these kinds of parties.
Just because a doctor prescribes medication does not make it safe. Just ask Eliza, a girl who got hooked – along with a friend – on prescription opioids that were given to her by a doctor after a simple wisdom tooth extraction when she was a teen. The first few days after surgery, Eliza took her Vicodin as prescribed to help with the pain she was experiencing. As the pain started to subside, she still craved the medication, even though she didn’t need it anymore. The following weekend rolled around, and she suggested that her friend Julie come over, watch movies, and share her Vicodin with her.
One more week passed where the girls would take some pills at the end of school and hang out. When they ran out, Julie actually elected to have her wisdom teeth taken out so that they could get more, even though it wasn’t a necessary procedure. A full month passed of the girls taking Vicodin, an opioid, daily. When they ran out, they felt miserable and found someone at school who could supply them. They ended up getting mixed up in a dangerous drug world that eventually led both of them to use street drugs like heroin.
Neither of these girls had any idea that a simple weekend of “fun” with a medication would completely derail their lives and bring them down a path of addiction and misery. Their school lives were ruined – Eliza dropped out and Julie barely scraped by. Their families were torn apart, and the entire community was affected by the unexpected drug use right on their own front porch.
The scary thing is that this is by no means an isolated incident. It happens every single day in all different kinds of communities. Rich, poor, black, white, Educated or not, drug addiction is running rampant through our country, and sharing medication contributes enormously to the problem. Giving medication to someone it is not prescribed to is not only a bad judgment call but also illegal. Plus, you never know the effects it will have on the person, and you certainly don’t want to unintentionally hurt someone!
Sharing medication can happen without you even knowing, which is why it is incredibly important to keep your pharmaceuticals locked up safely. If you have anyone visiting your home, you should make sure that your medicine is stored safely away from where anyone may come across them. This is especially true if you have small children in the house because a single dose of an adult medication could prove to be lethal. The same goes with disposing of your meds. Follow the directions on the bottle, and if you have any questions, contact your doctor or a poison control center.