Prescription drug abuse

    • Brief

    • Prescription drugs are the medicines your healthcare provider gives you when you fall sick. Usually, these medicines come with instructions on how to take them. When you use these medicines for another reason or in another way, you are abusing these drugs. Abusing prescription drugs is bad for your health and can lead to poor quality of life.

    • Why you should not abuse prescription drugs

    • Abusing prescription drugs has absolutely no benefits. These drugs are made to have certain effects at certain doses. Therefore, abusing them will lead to unwanted effects. Here are some other reasons you should not abuse prescription drugs:

      • Increased risk of side effects. Prescription drugs usually treat illness but may affect the body in other ways. You reduce your chances of these unwanted effects by taking your normal dose as advised by your healthcare provider. When you take more or fewer doses or take your drugs at the wrong time, you increase your chances of unwanted effects of your medicine.
      • Addiction. You may find it difficult to stop yourself from taking prescription drugs when you do not need to. When this happens, you may find it difficult to concentrate on other things apart from taking these drugs.
      • Diseases that become difficult to treat. Abusing prescription drugs can make your disease more difficult to treat. This is because your body finds it difficult to recognise the healing effects of the drug. 
      • Increased risk of infections. Some prescription medicines come as injections. When you inject yourself and share these injections, you increase your risk of infections. Common diseases you can get through sharing injections include HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B.
      • Death. Abusing prescription medicine by taking large doses or giving others your medicine can lead to death.
    • What it means to abuse prescription drugs

      • Taking more of your prescribed medicine. When you take more of the doses than your healthcare provider told you to, it is a form of abuse.
      • Giving other people your medicine. Your healthcare providers consider your details before giving you medication. When you give your drugs to others, you can harm them, and it is a form of drug abuse.
      • Mixing substances with your medicines. You should avoid taking your medication with alcohol or other substances.
      • Using your prescription medicines for another reason. Some prescription drugs, such as some pain medicines, can make you feel high. Taking these drugs, for this reason, is a form of drug abuse.
    • How to manage prescription drug abuse

    • If you have been abusing your prescription medicines, these are some tips on how to stop:

      • Talk to your healthcare provider. Tell your healthcare provider about your concerns of drug abuse. If you already abuse prescription drugs and would like to stop, ask them for help. They can help you avoid abusing drugs or stop through counselling and talk therapy.
      • Do not change your prescription on your own. If you need to stop your medicine or change your dose, you need to speak with your healthcare provider first. They will examine you and you can both reach an agreement what is best for you.
      • Know your medicines. Ask your healthcare provider about the possible effects of your medicines and how best to take them. This will help you avoid abusing your medicine.
      • Do not give out your medicines. Your drugs are for you alone. Do not share your drugs with others or collect their drugs. This can increase your risk of having unwanted effects of the drugs.


    • Teens and prescription drug abuse

    • Teenagers may be likely to abuse prescription medications when they are unable to access other recreational drugs.

      • Ensure your medicines are kept out of their reach.
      • If your teen is using your prescription medication, speak with them about this openly.
      • Your teen will usually require specialist help to get through this. Speak with your healthcare provider about getting help.