Selling or Trading Prescription Drugs

You’re on vacation and you get a massive headache. You forgot to pack an over-the-counter-pain reliever so you grab one of your husband’s prescription headache pills. Sound familiar?

Many people, at one time or another, have taken another person’s prescription medications – perhaps from the leftover bottle of antibiotics in the cupboard or the bottle of allergy pills that was tossed into the medicine cabinet when summer ended. While this seems like an acceptable thing to do, taking medications that were prescribed for someone else may be more dangerous than you think.

Many teens take other people’s prescription pills, too. Teens experiment with prescription medications for a variety of reasons. They may take a friend’s Ritalin so they can study more effectively or lose weight. They may try a prescription pain medication or anti-anxiety pill in order to relieve stress. Sometimes teens experiment with prescription drugs because they think it’ll be fun or will help them fit in better with their peers.

Research shows that most teens say it is “very easy” to obtain prescription medications. One reason is that the number of prescriptions written for 14- to 18-year-olds for stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall has increased by more than 200 percent since 1994. The growth of prescriptions for anxiety or sedative medications is equally great.

This means there are more teens out there with prescription medications. And “diversion” of these drugs, meaning the borrowing, selling, or trading of these medications, is fairly common.

What To Do
Many teens make the mistake of thinking that prescription medications are safe because doctors prescribe them. But these drugs are only safe for the person they’re prescribed for; a doctor has examined the person and ordered the right dose of the right drug for that specific individual.

Talk to your child about the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drug use. If your child has been prescribed a medication, make sure he knows the risk of giving away or selling the medication – it may harm another person, and it’s against the law. Help your child plan what to say to another student who approaches him with a request to “borrow” the medication.

Most importantly, be a good role model for appropriate drug use. Never use any medication other than that what has been prescribed for you. If you have been prescribed a medication, use it in the amount and only for as long as directed. Throw away medications you won’t be using again, so they aren’t readily available to curious teens.