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Drugs & Health Blog

Life is Complicated Enough: Why Add Prescription Drugs to the Mix?

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.

As a public health analyst at NIDA, one of my jobs is to look at data and help get information out to the public. When I heard that about 1 in 10 high school seniors had used the pain medicine Vicodin last year without a prescription, I knew there was a problem. Many people, and not just teens, think that because doctors are the ones who typically prescribe these drugs, they are safe for anyone to use. That’s not true.

So, why would someone take a prescription drug that wasn’t theirs? Research shows there are many reasons.

While a number of young people take prescription drugs to get high, many teens, especially girls, take them to help them concentrate when studying or to deal with physical pain. Even this type of use is considered “abuse” and is illegal since the drug was not prescribed for that person.

Not only is it illegal but it might end up affecting your health. Even if you follow the directions on the label, those instructions were written for someone else. For example, different body weights require different dosages for many medicines.

You might be saying, “Well, my friend took a prescription drug that wasn’t hers and she was ok.   What’s the big deal?” Maybe for your friend, or even you, it was fine that time-but that may not be the case the next time. Some people aren’t so lucky (like Heath Ledger). Different drugs have different effects. For example, abusing stimulants could cause your blood pressure to become dangerously high or lead to an irregular heartbeat. Or if opioids are taken with alcohol or antihistamines, they can cause you to stop breathing.

Writing this reminded me of a story I heard about an acquaintance who decided to try OxyContin at a party. She had been drinking when she took the pill and didn’t know that OxyContin mixed with alcohol can have some pretty nasty effects. She became disoriented, got separated from her friends, and passed out. Fortunately, her friends found her and she recovered.  She decided never again to take that kind of risk, but it’s too bad she had to go through such a scary ordeal before making that choice.

When you’re faced with the option to use a prescription drug that’s not yours, pause and ask yourself… Is this something I really want to add to the mix? Do I want to take the chance of putting myself and my friends through what could happen? If you’re reading this, you’ve shown that you care about yourself and your future.   Show you care the next time you face a tough choice about whether or not to pop a pill that’s not yours.

Bio: Anna is a public health analyst with NIDA. She spends a lot of time looking at numbers and answering questions about drug abuse statistics. When she’s not doing that she’s usually at the gym, finding new restaurants, or spending time with her family.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


I like this blog. Great look and feel, very "real."

U have a point! Love the blog!


about a year ago i bought some pain med off the corner after i got in a fight. later that night i was driving and got in a wreck. when the EMT asked where it hurt i said no where and i couldn't tell them i had the meds. now i have permanent back problems. it did what it was supposed to i guess.

Well yeaah I know what you are saying..and I'm glad I read this(:

It only goes to show where there's will there's a way. Keep on trying.

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Interresting article.. I understand better now

durgs are verybad

it did what it was supposed to i guess

beware of drugs. Save your life, make healthy choice for your life.

drugs are extremely bad for you!!!! I am so glad that people have a place to go where they can learn more about the severe effects that drugs can have on our bodies! :)

I dont like this blog. you guys only post up the positive comments but you never let anyone post thier opinion on the topic. I understand it makes you look better but then people have opinions too.

@LOLA: We post everything that doesn't violate our policy, which we're required to follow. To make this blog a friendly place for everyone, we ask that commenters treat each other with respect. That is why we moderate all comments before they are posted. Comments that contain vulgar language, personal insults, offensive comments about people’s ethnicity, race, religion, or sexual orientation, or any other kinds of attacks on other people will not be posted. Comments that are spam, are clearly off topic, that promote services or products, or that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. Please keep in mind that the Sara Bellum Blog cannot accept comments that advocate breaking the law or committing crimes. Other than that, we're equal opportunity post-ers.

I know prescription drugs like Vicodin are used to treat back pain but they are also very additive. There are many stories about how people started out using oxycodone for their back pain but after a short time become physically addicted them and their lives are ruined. There are so many good natural products available that people can try for their back pain or exercises to strengthen their muscles that they shouldn't need these potent additive drugs.

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Coming from a once-abuser of RX drugs (oxycodone 30 mg,) this blog speaks to me. Note I said once-abuser, because I am officially clean now, over a month, but through high school, I was introduced to pain medications and it was what truely helped me dive into an addiction. RX Meds are definitely for other people, and for real reasons, and at first I didn't have a real reason but that inside, I hurt, almost as much as outside. I eventually got a true, heavy prescription after injuring my back during weightlifting, and as I am no longer taking any kind of pain meds, I'm suffering more physically than anything. Quitting is the best choice, never begnning would have been better. Heed other's advice, don't take prescription drugs, especially if theyre not your own, and if you do get a prescription, ask your doctor to give you a run down. It is your right to know. If i would have known 2 years ago, before falling into a heavy addiction, what I know now, I would have been much more apt to say NO to RX drugs... Pain pills are nothing but monsters man has created & who really needs a monster in their life?

I am a physical therapist and I am amazed at how many people including teens suffer with back pain, treating it with potentially addictive prescription medication for months on end without ever getting a prescription for physical therapy from their doctor. Physical therapy is a much more effective treatment for back pain than pain meds. Stretching, exercise and massage make up the majority of the treatment that patients receive it physical therapy. Home treatment is also available.

I think it's important to mention that Heath Ledger was taking a cocktail of these RXed drugs, and also that he had an RX for at least some of them. Just because they are prescribed doesn't necessarily make them ok. Common sense plays a major roll in use of drugs, legal or otherwise.

This is very good news. Thank you for showing that you do listen. Please keep it up!

Amazing information sharing and really helpful information with unique content.
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Interresting article..
Drugs is another word for death
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Interesting one. Thank you for sharing this.

This is very nice posts and news. and drugs are very addictive so please take cautions. Thank you for sharing this.

Thanks for your great share about prescription drugs. I believe readers will be aware for their health when addicted to drugs.

Max [commercial link removed, per guidelines]

Many children's now are one of the most leading who used drugs. As a therapist [commercial link removed, per guidelines] I learned that they become addicted and destroy their future. so we must took care of them because they are just influenced by their peers.

Thanks for your post