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Teen Myth: Prescription Drugs Are Safer

Just Because It's Medicine Doesn't Make It Safe

By

Updated May 15, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Teen With Headphones

Who do you listen to concerning drugs?

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If you are a teenager, chances are you have heard friends suggest that taking prescription medications is safer than using illegal drugs because, after all, they are medicine. Medicine is good for you, right?

But if you think about it, you just might not buy into the myth that all medicine is safe or good for you.

Doctors Take Precautions

Consider the steps doctors take before they ever issue someone a prescription. They take a medical history of the person, perform a physical examination and usually run additional tests before deciding what, if any, kind of medicine to give to a patient, how much of it to take and how often it should be taken.

Even after all that preparation, the medication doesn't always produce the effects the doctor expected it to, so he will have to adjust the dosage or perhaps change to a different medication entirely.

Possible Side Effects

Sometimes when the medication does exactly what the doctor wanted it to do, it can have adverse side effects in some people. That's the reason when you see commercials on television for some medications, the disclaimer about the possible side effects of the drug can take up more time than the actual advertisement for the product!

In fact, all medications can produce very serious side effects. Some medications can cause your heart to stop beating or cause you to stop breathing, or both.

Deadly Consequences

Prescription drugs are very powerful medications, that is why you have to have a prescription to take them. The truth is if you take some medications you have no idea how they might affect you. Mixing different prescription drugs together or mixing them with alcohol or other substances can have serious and possibly deadly consequences.

You hear stories all the time about people who die from "accidental" overdoses of prescription drugs. Even the rich and famous - celebrities like Brittany Murphy, Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith - die unexpectedly because they honestly believed their use of prescription drugs was safe.

Think For Yourself

The abuse of prescription drugs is just as dangerous as abusing illicit drugs. When your friends try to convince you that taking a prescription pill is safe, ask yourself, "How would they know?" The drug may not have affected them, but it just might be harmful for you.

Don't give in to peer pressure. Think for yourself and consider all the risks before you take any drug.

More Information: Myths About Teen Prescription Drug Abuse

Source:

National Council on Patient Information and Education, "Myth Busters: 6 Myths about Teens and Prescription Drug Abuse (PDF)." November 2009

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