Non-Medical Use of Prescriptions

While alcohol abuse and binge drinking still top the list of substance abuse issues on college campuses, the non-medical use of prescription drugs—and the tendency to combine these medications with alcohol and other drugs—is a growing concern. Some college students abuse prescription medications to feel good or get high, but plenty of others turn to these medications to help reduce the stress and anxiety of
college life, boost their mood, pull an all-nighter to cram for an exam or write that dreaded term paper they’ve put off or to increase their stamina when playing sports. Most students who misuse or abuse these medications get them from a friend or relative. They think these drugs are safe because they are prescribed by doctors. But taking someone else’s prescription is dangerous.

If your doctor has prescribed a medication to you—especially if it is a stimulant (Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin), sedative (Xanax and Valium) or pain reliever (Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin)—you need to take steps to safeguard these medications. They have the potential to lead to addiction, abuse, serious health problems, and even death if used by someone other than you. As tempting as it might be to share your medication with a friend or roommate either to fit in or because you feel empathy for them if they are in pain or desperately need to stay up all night to cram for an exam, please don't. Not only is it illegal, but it's a health and safety risk for our community. 

Tips for Safeguarding Medications:

  • Store your medications in a secure and dry place. People visiting you may be interested in stealing your prescriptions, especially if they are left visible (sitting on your desk or dresser, for example). Consider using a lock box or hide them in the back of your closet where it is not easy for others to find.
  • Keep track of your medicine. Count how many pills you have at any given time to check for missing medicine.
  • Don’t share your medications under any circumstances. If a friend or teammate is injured, instead of “sharing” a pain reliever, make sure he or she sees a healthcare professional for care.
  • Keep a low profile. Your medicines are your business. There’s no reason to tell your friends about the medicines you take.
  • Properly dispose of old or unused medicines. Most prescriptions drugs can be placed in a non-see-through container mixed with dirt or kitty litter and thrown in the garbage. Visit the FDA or Smart Rx Disposal to learn more about medication disposal.