Who's At Risk And What I Can Do
Is Anyone Who Uses Prescription Drugs at Risk for Addiction? How Can I Protect Myself?
No, not all prescription drugs have the potential for abuse and addiction—many drugs don’t even act in the brain. For example, antibiotics, which are used for infections, are not addictive.
You (and your parents) should read the information that comes with the prescription and that is written on the container. This will include the doctor's instructions for how much of the drug to take and how often, as well as warnings about possible side effects. Read the label and learn whether you should take the drug with or without food, whether the drug will make you drowsy, and whether you can take it with other prescription or over-the-counter medicines. You can protect yourself by taking prescription drugs only according to these instructions. That includes the dosage prescribed and the length of time. If you have a question about a drug that has been prescribed for you, have your parents call your doctor or pharmacist.
If the drug is creating problems for you (e.g., if you experience unpleasant side effects or think you may be becoming addicted), you should consult with your doctor immediately to see if a change in dosage or scheduling of the medication is needed, or if it should be stopped altogether. But do not make these decisions on your own—there can be risks to changing dosage or stopping a medication abruptly.
What Can I Do To Help Someone I Suspect Is Abusing Prescription Drugs?
When someone has a drug problem, it’s not always easy to know what to do. If you are concerned about someone’s drug use (illicit or prescription), encourage him or her to talk to a parent, school guidance counselor, or other trusted adult. There are also anonymous resources, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) is a crisis hotline that can help with many problems, not just suicide. This includes problems due to drug use. Family and friends who are concerned about a loved one or anyone interested in mental health treatment referrals can call this Lifeline. Callers are connected with a professional nearby who will talk with them about what they’re feeling or about concerns for family and friends.
In addition, the Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP)—offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration—refers callers to treatment facilities, support groups, and other local organizations that can provide help for their specific needs. You can also locate treatment centers in your state by going to www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov.