Used as prescribed and directed, medicine improves lives. When misused, however, the consequences can be devastating.

    Medicine is considered misused when it is taken by someone for whom it was not prescribed or intended. Misuse also applies when it is taken in a dose, for a time or for a purpose for reasons outside of its original prescription or intention. If not used as intended, it is particularly dangerous for those medicines that can affect the brain in ways similar to substances like alcohol, cocaine or heroin.

    While some people misuse certain types of medicine to “get high,” many are simply trying to cope or manage the stress in their lives. Prescription stimulants, pain relievers, sedatives and tranquilizers, and even over-the-counter cough medicine are commonly misused or abused for these reasons. And people who do so may fail to recognize that misuse of these medications can have negative, rather than positive, effects on their health and well-being. In fact, it can lead to addiction.

    Call to Action
    Keeping communities safe from medicine abuse

    In 2012, we brought together a group of partners from the public and private sectors to form the Medicine Abuse Project. This joint effort provides resources to parents, healthcare providers, educators and community leaders on appropriate storage and safe disposal of medications.

    About The Medicine Abuse Project

    Preventing medicine abuse

    Problematic misuse of medication often begins during the teen and young adult years. Learn how you can protect your family and community.

    Medicine Abuse: What’s Happening & Why

    Used as directed, medicines improve our lives. When misused or abused, the consequences can be devastating. Learn more about this epidemic.
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    Securing & Disposing Medications

    Two-thirds of teens who report abusing Rx medication get it from friends, family and acquaintances. Use proper storage and disposal, to help prevent abuse.
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    Talking With Your Kids and What to Say to Prevent Medicine Abuse

    Take action by having frequent conversations with the teens and young adults in your life about the dangers of medicine abuse. Learn how.
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    Stress and Drug Use: What Every Parent Should Know

    School stress can lead to teen drug use, but many parents with good intentions overlook the possibility. Learn the effects of stress and how to help your kid cope.
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    When Opioid Pain Relievers Are Prescribed For Your Child: What You Should Know

    The overprescribing of prescription pain relievers has been a major cause of the opioid epidemic. Know what to ask when your child is prescribed opioids.
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    Host a Film Screening

    Learn about teen prescription drug abuse through the eyes of a teen filmmaker, who set out to capture the issue as it exists in his world.
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    Types of medication & risks explained

    Get the facts and learn more about the types of medication most susceptible to misuse.

    Prescription Pain Relievers (Opioids)

    Opioids are powerful drugs with a high risk for dependency. Taken in high doses, and/or with other substances can result in respiratory distress and death.

    Prescription Stimulants

    Speed, Uppers, Addies — Stimulants were used historically to treat a variety of ailments, before their potential for abuse and addiction became apparent.

    Prescription Sedatives & Tranquilizers

    These drugs slow normal brain function, which may result in slurred speech, shallow breathing, sluggishness, fatigue, disorientation and lack of coordination.

    Dextromethorphan (DXM)

    Dextromethorphan (DXM) is a cough-suppressing ingredient found in a variety of over-the-counter cold and cough medications which are susceptible to misuse.

    Last Updated

    August 2020

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