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Recognizing drug misuse

Drug misuse happens when substances are taken for a purpose that is not consistent with legal or medical guidelines. Examples of this include:

  • Taking incorrect dosages
  • Taking a prescribed medication at the wrong time
  • Forgetting to take a dose
  • Stopping taking the medication too soon
  • Taking a drug for reasons other than prescribed
  • Taking a drug that was not prescribed to you

Recognizing drug abuse

Prescription drug abuse is much more common, and closer to home than you may think.

Taking an extra dose of medication because you don’t feel the medicine’s full effects, or giving medication to a sick family member to help them is potentially harming yourself and others. Taking medications without doctors orders is incredibly unsafe and may cause an overdose, adverse reactions or create an addiction.

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Safe practices:

  • Take medications exactly as prescribed. Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
  • Use a weekly or monthly pill box to organize your pills.
  • Set a reminder alarm.
  • Give a family member or caregiver an updated copy of your medication list, including any special instructions.
  • Bring your updated medication list with you to all medical appointments.
  • Check all prescriptions before travel or inclement weather so that you won’t run out.
  • Properly dispose of expired or unused prescriptions.
  • Use the same pharmacy to fill all prescriptions so they can help keep track of your medications and allergies.

Avoid common and dangerous mistakes:

  • Don’t stop taking an antibiotic just because you are feeling better. Make sure to follow the directions on the medicine bottle.
  • Never use medications prescribed for someone else.
  • Never take expired medications.

If you or someone you know is experiencing overdose or other misuse, call the American Poison Control Hotline at 1-800-222-1222