Using someone else’s prescription medicine is a lot like playing Russian roulette – you might get away unscathed, and then again you might not. And it could have devastating consequences. Just because we see prescription medicines advertised on TV doesn’t mean they are safe for everyone. There are good reasons why you can’t buy them over the counter. A physician takes many factors into account before prescribing a medication for you, including your current condition, your past medical history, your other medications and the likely risks and benefits of the drug to you as an individual. After making this decision he or she will then explain how to take the medication, when to take it, how much and how long to take it, what else you can and can’t take with it, and what to expect after you take it – both the good and the bad. And after all that you’ll then get an information sheet at the pharmacy giving you all these details in printed form.
Taking someone else’s prescription medication deprives you of all these considerations and leaves you vulnerable to a host of problems, some of which can be life-threatening or even fatal. Here are 16 reasons why using someone else’s prescription medicine is a bad idea:
- You might not really understand what the drug’s intended uses are or what its typical or atypical effects might be.
- Because of similarities in names it could be a completely different drug than what you think it is.
- You might not know or understand the drug’s potential short- or long-term side effects and either not be prepared for them or not recognize their occurrence.
- The drug might be bad or otherwise wrong for someone with your particular medical condition (contraindicated), and your doctor would never have prescribed it for you.
- You might not know whether the medication should or shouldn’t be taken with food or whether it’s okay to combine it with alcohol or other CNS depressant drugs.
- You might already be taking another drug that could negatively interact with this one.
- Taking the drug without a proper diagnosis could mask symptoms of your underlying condition, which could be getting worse.
- It could be the wrong dose for your particular body size or weight.
- The dose might be way too high for you because for that particular drug one needs to build up to that dose gradually by taking lower doses and slowly increasing them (called titration).
- You might be allergic to the drug or its components.
- You might have either liver or kidney dysfunction and not be able to metabolize the medication properly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels.
- You might need to take other drugs along with it to prevent side effects.
- You might be pregnant or nursing and the drug’s not intended for use during those times.
- The drug could be past its expiration date.
- Although it may say one thing on the label, it’s possible the person already used all those pills and is storing something completely different in there and you’ve got no idea what it is.
- If you do have an unexpected serious reaction, no one will know you’ve taken someone else’s medicine, least of all your own doctor, which could delay needed treatment for your emergency situation.