Prescription drug abuse may occur in people who need painkillers, sedatives or stimulants to treat a medical condition. If you're taking a commonly abused drug, here are ways to decrease your risk:

  • Make sure you're getting the right medication. Make sure your doctor clearly understands your condition and the signs and symptoms. Tell your doctor about all your prescriptions, as well as over-the-counter medications, herbs and supplements, and alcohol and drug use. Ask your doctor whether there's an alternative medication with ingredients that have less potential for addiction.
  • Check in with your doctor. Talk with your doctor on a regular basis to make sure that the medication you're taking is working and you're taking the right dose.
  • Follow directions carefully. Use your medication the way it was prescribed. Don't stop or change the dose of a drug on your own if it doesn't seem to be working without talking to your doctor. For example, if you're taking a pain medication that isn't adequately controlling your pain, don't take more.
  • Know what your medication does. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the effects of your medication, so you know what to expect. Also check if other drugs, over-the-counter products or alcohol should be avoided when taking this medication.
  • Never use another person's prescription. Everyone is different. Even if you have a similar medical condition, it may not be the right medication or dose for you.
  • Don't order prescriptions online unless they're from a trustworthy pharmacy. Some websites sell counterfeit prescription and nonprescription drugs that could be dangerous.

Preventing prescription drug abuse in teens

Young people are at especially high risk of prescription drug abuse. Follow these steps to help prevent your teen from abusing prescription medications.

  • Discuss the dangers. Emphasize to your teen that just because drugs are prescribed by a doctor doesn't make them safe — especially if they were prescribed to someone else or if your child is already taking other prescription medications.
  • Set rules. Let your teen know that it's not OK to share medications with others — or to take drugs prescribed for others. Emphasize the importance of taking the prescribed dose and talking with the doctor before making changes.
  • Discuss the dangers of alcohol use. Using alcohol with medications can increase the risk of accidental overdose.
  • Keep your prescription drugs safe. Keep track of quantities and keep them in a locked medicine cabinet.
  • Make sure your child isn't ordering drugs online. Some websites sell counterfeit and dangerous drugs that may not require a prescription.
  • Properly dispose of medications. Don't leave unused or expired drugs around. Check the label or patient information guide for disposal instructions, or ask your pharmacist for advice on disposal.
Sept. 19, 2015