Prescription Drug Abuse

Most people believe that drug abuse involves a shady looking drug dealer selling illegal drugs to an emaciated and homeless addict in a dark alley.  Few people appreciate a large portion of drug abuse in our community involves the abuse of prescription and over the counter drugs – drugs purchased legally by all of us at our local pharmacy. 

Prescription drug abuse occurs when someone uses a legal drug that has been prescribed to someone else, or uses a prescribed or over the counter drug in a way or dosage other than as the doctor recommended.  Taking a friend’s or relative’s prescription to get high or to self-medicate your own problems are examples of prescription drug abuse. 

Prescription and over the counter drugs are as dangerous as illegal street drugs if they are not prescribed to you, not taken as directed, or used recreationally.  It is a dangerous misconception that prescription or over the counter drugs can provide a “safe high.”  Just because a drug was prescribed to you or a loved one, or because you purchased it legally off the store shelf, does not mean that the medication isn’t potentially lethal.  Using prescription and over the counter drugs for nonmedical reasons is dangerous and potentially addicting. 

Prescription drug abuse by teens is a significant problem across the nation.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has measured teens’ use and attitudes about drugs since the mid 1970’s. NIDA statistics from 2012 revealed a number of worrying issues:

 •    Rates remain high for nonmedical use of prescription drugs by teens, but teens perceive the risk of this drug abuse to be low.

 •    14.8% of high school seniors used a prescription drug for nonmedical reasons or used a prescription drug that was not prescribed to them in the past year.

 •    Most of the drugs abused by 12th graders in the past year – excluding marijuana – were prescription and over the counter medications.  Adderall and Vicodin were the two prescription drugs most commonly abused; both can become addictive.  

Don’t lull yourself into thinking this abuse doesn’t happen in our community.  In a recent survey of Rice County High School Students:

·      27% of students reported it is easy to obtain prescription medications not prescribed to them; and,

·      5% reported that they have taken medications prescribed to someone else. 

There is often a close relationship between drug addiction and crime.  Prescription drugs are sought and stolen in many burglaries in Rice County.  Preventing the abuse of prescription and over the counter drugs builds a stronger and safer community.   Store medicines in a secure location away from children, teens and guests – invited or otherwise. 


On November 7th, partners of the Rice County Chemical Health Coalition gathered at the Rice County Court House for a “Thanks a Ton Celebration.”  The event recognized the collection of 5 tons of prescription medications through the Take It To The Box program.  Take It To The Box promotes the safe use, safe storage and safe disposal of medications.  Special medication disposal boxes are located at the Faribault and Northfield Police Departments.  Old and unneeded prescription, over the counter and animal medications can be safely and securely disposed of in these drop off boxes.  The web page address for the Rice County Chemical Health Coalition is www.ricecountychc.com .  If you click on the Take It To The Box logo, you will be directed to additional information on this valuable program. 

Thanks a Ton to all of you who are doing your part to take drugs off our streets.  Let’s all make a 2014 New Year’s resolution to Take It To the Box.  It is a simple step in preventing prescription and over the counter drug abuse!  I wish you all a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!
Mary Nelson December 13, 2013 at 08:06 PM
A ton of congratulations, Rice County!


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