Close-up of RX  prescription and stethoscopeWhat Are The Dangers of Taking Medications That Are Not Prescribed To You?

Most of us have probably been in a situation where a well-meaning friend or family member offers us some of their own medication to treat some ailment that we may be experiencing. It could be a headache, some acid reflux, or maybe a bit of anxiety. “Oh, I know just what will help you. Try this—it’s something my doctor prescribes me and it works great”, they’ll say to us. In that moment of discomfort or pain, it sure is tempting to listen to your buddy or family member. However, it’s very important to keep in mind a few key reasons why it’s actually dangerous to take medications that are prescribed to an individual that is not yourself.

  1. You don’t know how this medication may interact with prescription medications or over the counter aids that you are also currently taking
  2. This medication may be dangerous for an individual with your specific medical conditions (ie, if you have liver damage, kidney dysfunction or heart disease)
  3. You may think the medication is one drug while it’s actually another due to similarities in names (ie, sertraline and cetirizine)
  4. You could simply be allergic to the medication
  5. The medication could be in the wrong dose for someone of your age, weight, or sex or for someone with your medical history
  6. You may not know whether the medication needs to be taken with or without food
  7. The medication may have serious short term or even long lasting side effects that you are unaware of
  8. The medication may have the potential to be habit-forming (ie, have a risk of causing addiction)

For all these reasons and more, it can be extremely dangerous to take medications that do not belong to you. When visiting your doctor, he or she takes the “whole picture” of you into consideration when deciding on a course of treatment. Plus, you get a sheet of important information when filling your medication at a pharmacy as well as the opportunity to ask your local pharmacist about any medication specific questions or concerns that may arise. So eliminate the guessing game, and get your medications prescribed the right and safe way!

Live Mentally Healthy,

Dr. Matt Bader
Matt Bader