Is It Okay to Borrow Someone Else’s Prescription Drugs?
Maybe you have finished a particularly rough sports practice, and you want to ask your teammate with the broken leg if he has any Oxycontin he can lend you. Or perhaps you are cramming for a midterm and need to stay focused, and your study buddy offers to share his Ritalin with you. Or you are stressing out over a recent breakup, and your friend offers to give you one of her Xanax to calm you down. Or maybe you have run out of your prescription drugs, and since your roommate takes the same medication, you can just borrow one of his or her pills. In these situations, it is perfectly fine to take a pill, capsule, or another drug that is prescribed for someone else… right? Wrong!
It Could Make Matters Worse
For one thing, even though the medication might be the same, the appropriate dosage might differ from one person to another. An example would be sleeping pills prescribed to a 280-pound football player being borrowed by a 100-pound woman. She could possibly overdose on the medication by taking the same dose that the man takes.
Also, taking the wrong drug for your condition could actually exacerbate your problems. For instance, if you have high blood pressure and take someone else’s prescription-strength acetaminophen for your pain, your blood pressure may increase even further, thereby increasing the odds of a stroke.
Your Body May React Poorly
Here is the next big reason to avoid taking other people’s medications, namely, deleterious side effects. While almost all drugs have side effects, doctors try to minimize their occurrence when prescribing medication to a particular patient based on his or her individual health status. If the drug is ingested by a stranger, he or she may suffer those unwanted side effects.
In addition, borrowing prescription drugs may trigger an allergic or other serious reaction in your body. You might experience nausea, light-headedness, or stomach pain; or you may be struck by something worse like Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which causes uncontrollable burning and blistering of your skin.
One of the potentially dangerous issues involving borrowing somebody else’s medication is the interactions with other substances (or foods) that you consume. For example, if you are using antihistamines to fight off the effects of a cold and you help yourself to a friend’s Xanax, you could seriously impair your concentration – which can be deadly if you are driving. Also, certain foods like chocolate, grapefruit, and licorice can negatively interact with various medications, as can health supplements like ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and St. John’s wort.
It Is Against the Law
By the way, it is technically illegal to consume (or even possess) prescription drugs that you did not get from a pharmacy or healthcare professional. Depending on the state you live in, being arrested with even a single pill or capsule that is not prescribed for you can earn you a stiff fine, jail time, or even a prison sentence. This is especially true if the drug has significant potential for abuse (like an opioid or a tranquilizer).
Oh, Yeah… You Could Get Addicted
Finally, popping a prescription pill from someone else’s stash could open the door to dependence and addiction. For some people, it only takes one or two instances of taking certain drugs to get hooked. Once addiction takes hold, it can slowly destroy your life by getting you kicked out of school, shattering your relationships, and bleeding your finances dry.
In short, there is no good reason why or acceptable situation where borrowing someone else’s medications is a good idea. If you do need a prescription drug, see a doctor or nurse practitioner. Otherwise, you should make do with over-the-counter medicines or take other approaches to improve your health.