Prescription drugs have contributed to major advances in public health that are largely the result of vaccines and antibiotics. However, prescription drugs are the second most commonly abused category of drugs, behind marijuana and ahead of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs. Non-medical prescription drug use is the use of over-the-counter (OTC) or a prescription drug for anything other than the drug's intended purpose, by someone other than the intended recipient, and/or in a dosage other than prescribed.
Commonly misused and abused drugs include:
Students misuse prescription drugs for a variety of reasons, including to increase concentration (or to study), lose weight, party, relax and relieve symptoms of health problems. Luckily, a majority of UT students do not misuse prescription drugs. A recent survey found that 88% of students did not use prescription drugs that were not prescribed to them in the past year.
Prescription drugs are often strong medications, which is why they require a prescription in the first place. Doctors take careful consideration about the potential benefits and risks to each patient before prescribing medications. Misusing prescription drugs can be dangerous, have serious medical consequences and lead to the following side-effects:
It is illegal to use prescription drugs without a valid prescription or to distribute them. The penalties associated with the abuse or illegal distribution of prescription drugs vary depending upon the drug type.
There are plenty of safe and healthier alternatives to the misuse of prescription or OTC medication. Below are on-campus resources that can help.
Many students who use prescription stimulants have the medicines prescribed and monitored by a doctor and gain benefit from using them. They may be approached by other students to buy their medicines. Here are some tips for protecting your prescription (adapted from NYU Student Health Center):