What is prescription drug abuse?
Prescription drug abuse is when a person uses prescription medication not prescribed for that person, or uses the medication in a way that hasn’t been recommended by a doctor. Prescription drug abuse is a term usually reserved for improper use of medicines that are categorized as “controlled substances” by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Examples include many pain, anxiety, and sleep medicine. A person who abuses prescription drugs may take more medicine than their doctors instructed, take medicine when it is not needed, or mix the medicine with alcohol or other drugs. This can lead to serious problems, such as addiction, drug interactions, or even overdose.
Not all prescription drugs cause addiction. Most prescription drugs are safe and effective when you follow your doctor’s directions for how to take the medicine.
See a list of resources used in the development of this information.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff