Are prescription drugs dangerous?

ALL drugs are chemicals that affect the body. But some people don’t realize that prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs can be equally as dangerous as street drugs. The very reason prescription drugs require a prescription from a doctor is because they are powerful substances and need to be regulated and taken under a physician’s care to ensure that patients take them safely.

Even if a person is prescribed a medication, taking more of that drug, or taking it more often than recommended, is dangerous. The most recent research on deaths in the U.S. due to unintentional poisoning over a five-year period shows that nearly all poisoning deaths are attributed to prescription and illegal drugs. Prescription opioids such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and methadone account for the greatest percentage of deaths from prescription drugs.1

Side effects of prescription drugs, including painkillers, depressants, and stimulants, include respiratory depression, dizziness, slurred speech, poor concentration, feelings of confusion, increased heart rate and breathing, excessive sweating, vomiting, tremors, anxiety, hostility and aggression, suicidal and homicidal tendencies, convulsions, lack of energy, inability to concentrate, nausea and vomiting, apathy, heart attacks, addiction, coma, and death.2,3

Prescription drugs can also be addictive. Between 1995 and 2005, treatment admissions for abuse of prescription pain relievers grew more than 300 percent.4

Additionally, getting prescription drugs without a prescription is illegal and may subject a person to arrest and prosecution. Regardless of how you acquire a prescription medication, using these types of drugs without a valid prescription and medical supervision is unsafe and illegal.

  1. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS). 2007 Treatment Episode Data Set, 1995 to 2005
    National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
    View Source []
  2. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information ClearinghouseYour Kidneys and How They Work
    November 2005.
    View Source []
  3. Bryner, Wang, Hui, Bedodo, MacDougall & Anderson. 2006. Dextromethorphan Abuse in Adolescence, An Increasing Trend: 1999-2004. 
    Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
    View Source []
  4. Better Health Channel. Drug overdose
    View Source []
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