Prescription Drug Myths
The following are eight commonly held myths college students have about prescription drugs, followed by the facts about proper usage and precautions to take.
- Myth: My friend and I have the same medical issue, so I can just save myself a whole lot of time and money by sharing her meds instead of visiting a doctor to get a prescription myself.
- Fact: Just because you and your friend have the same medical issue does not mean that your bodies will respond the same way to medication, which is something that only a doctor will be able to tell you. For instance, you may have an allergic reaction to the medication that you are unaware of. Also, it is unlikely that without a prescription, you will know the correct dosage and specific side effects of the drug. Finally, you won't know if your friend's medication will have a harmful interaction with a medication you are currently taking.
- Myth: I haven't been diagnosed with ADHD, but sometimes I have trouble concentrating when studying for a big exam. Adderall helps people with ADHD concentrate, so surely it will help me.
- Fact: Again, if you have not seen a doctor and have not obtained a prescription for Adderall or other similar stimulants, you have no idea how it is going to affect your body and your ability to concentrate; in fact, it may have an adverse effect. For example, some studies have found that while Adderall may enhance concentration, it may also decrease creativity.
- Myth: There are few, if any, legal consequences for sharing prescription drugs.
- Fact: It is illegal to share prescription drugs with others or to distribute prescription drugs without a license to do so. Furthermore, students who have received federal drug convictions may become ineligible to receive federal financial aid for their course of study.
- Myth: I don't have the money or time to spend on doctor's visits and expensive prescriptions. It's much easier and cheaper to just order the prescription medications I need online.
- Fact: Ordering medications online is dangerous because you have no idea where those drugs came from; they could have come from a Dumpster, for all you know! Furthermore, without first consulting with a doctor, you have no idea how those medications are going to affect your body as well as the potential side effects. It may seem less expensive initially to order drugs off the Internet, but it could end up costing you in the long run-in more ways than one.
- Myth: As long as I drink responsibly, it is completely safe for me to consume alcohol while taking prescription medications.
- Fact: It is actually extremely dangerous to mix certain prescription medications with alcohol. In some cases, it can lead to respiratory impairment and even death. Combining alcohol and opiates, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, can be especially lethal, since both slow breathing.
- Myth: My psychiatrist prescribed me an anti-depressant because I've been feeling so down lately. I've been on the medication for two weeks now, and I don't feel any better, so it's completely okay for me to take myself off.
- Fact: As with most long-term courses of medication, it takes time to see results; anti-depressants often take 3-6 weeks to take effect. If you stop taking anti-depressants too early and without consulting your psychiatrist first, your depression can actually become much worse. You can also experience intense physical symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, and flu-like symptoms.
- Myth: My psychiatrist recommended that I go on anti-anxiety medication, but I think taking medication is a sign of weakness. Besides, I don't want to become dependent on a foreign substance to make me feel "normal."
- Fact: When anxiety or depression or another mental health issue is impairing your ability to function normally, it is a sign of good self-care that you are seeking treatment for the issue, not a sign of weakness. Furthermore, most anti-depressants are non-habit-forming, so becoming dependent on them is rarely an issue.
- Myth: It is okay for me to simply throw away my unused or expired medications in the trash.
- Fact: Throwing away unused, unwanted, or expired medication can be dangerous to others and the environment. CHWS provides free medication disposal on-campus while Pierce County has a number of safe disposal sites.