Help for Prescription Drug Abuse
Those affiliated with Southern Methodist University are urged to contact
Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention
at 214-768-2277 to seek help for SMU students, faculty or staff thought to be
abusing or misusing prescription drugs.
Assessments, interventions, referrals and short-term counseling, as well as
ongoing support for recovering students, are
at the Center for those affiliated with the University.
In addition, the Center sponsors the "Because I Care" program, a one-hour module
taught in conjunction with TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures), that
provides students with the information and skills they need to intervene with
peers who are using drugs. Call 214-768-2277 to attend a session. Program goals
- Learn how drugs affect people and the signs, symptoms and indicators of
- Share ideas for influencing peers to lower risk
- Develop strategies for preventing drug-related tragedies on campus
- Apply the information through discussion and practice exercises
Almost half of full-time
college students binge drink and/or abuse prescription and illegal drugs,
Wasting the Best and Brightest: Substance Abuse at America's Colleges and
Universities (PDF). The landmark report finds that nearly two million
full-time college students meet the medical criteria for substance abuse and
dependence, two and one half times the 8.5 percent of the general population who
meet these same criteria.
The National Institute on
Drug Abuse and SMU provide the following facts to help you better understand and address the problem of prescription drug abuse:
What is prescription drug abuse?
Prescription drug abuse is taking a medication that was prescribed for
yourself or another in a manner or dosage other than what was prescribed.
Abuse can include taking a friend’s or relative’s prescription to get high,
to help with studying, or even to treat pain.
What are the most commonly abused prescription drugs?
- Opioids (such as the pain relievers OxyContin, Hydrocodone and Vicodin)
nervous system depressants (e.g., Xanax, Valium).
- Stimulants (e.g., Concerta, Adderall).
How can I help someone I suspect is
abusing prescription drugs?
When someone has a drug problem, it’s not
always easy to know what to do. If you are
concerned about someone’s drug use (illicit or
prescription), encourage him or her to talk to a
parent, counselor, or other
Call the SMU Center for Alcohol and Drug
Abuse Prevention at 214-768-4021. There are also anonymous
resources, such as the National Suicide
Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the
Treatment Referral Helpline (1-800-662-HELP).
What’s wrong with abusing prescription drugs?
Virtually every medication presents some risk of undesirable
side effects, sometimes even serious ones. Doctors consider the
potential benefits and risks to each patient before prescribing
medications. They understand that drugs affect the body in many
ways and take into account things like the drug’s form and dose,
its possible side effects, and the potential for addiction or
withdrawal. People who abuse
drugs might not understand how these factors may affect them or
that prescription drugs do more than cause a high, help them
stay awake, help them relax or relieve pain.
Is it dangerous to mix prescription drugs
When mixing alcohol with a prescription drug, the results can be
unpredictable, dangerous and, at times, fatal. There is no set formula for
what will happen when an individual consumes both alcohol and a prescription
drug. Each person is different, and the results vary based on the type and
quantity of medication and alcohol ingested, the time frame involved, the
individual's tolerance to both the drug and to alcohol, as well as a series
of unpredictable, unique factors. To be safe, never mix alcohol with any
type of medication, whether prescription or over-the-counter, before first
checking with a licensed health care professional.
How do prescription drugs affect
the body, and what are the common effects?
Abusing prescription drugs can have negative
short- and long-term health consequences.
Opioids, central nervous system depressants, and
stimulants each affect the brain and body in
Aren’t prescription drugs safer than
drugs, such as cocaine or heroin?
Many people think that abusing prescription
drugs is safer than abusing illicit drugs like
heroin because the manufacturing of prescription
drugs is regulated or because they are
prescribed by doctors. That’s true, but it
doesn’t mean that these drugs are safe for
someone who was not prescribed the drug or when
they are taken in ways other than as prescribed.
Prescription drugs can have powerful effects
in the brain and body, and they act on the same
brain sites as illicit drugs. Opioid painkillers
act on the same sites in the brain as heroin;
prescription stimulants have effects in common
with cocaine. And people sometimes take the
medications in ways that can be very dangerous
in both the short and long term.
Also, abusing prescription drugs is illegal—and
that includes sharing prescriptions with
Is anyone who uses prescription drugs at
risk for addiction?
Not all prescription drugs have the
potential for abuse and addiction—many drugs
don’t even act in the brain. For example,
antibiotics, which are used for infections, are
Play it safe. Read the
information that comes with the prescription and
that is written on the container. These will
include the doctor’s instructions for how much
of the drug to take and how often, as well as
warnings about possible side effects. Read the
label and learn whether you should take the drug
with or without food, whether the drug will make
you drowsy, and whether you can take it with
other prescription or over-the-counter
medicines. Protect yourself by taking
according to these instructions. That includes
the dosage prescribed and the length of time. If
you have a question about a drug that has been
prescribed for you, you or your parents should
If the drug is creating problems for you
(e.g., if you experience unpleasant side effects
or think you may be becoming addicted), consult with your doctor immediately.
Do not make these decisions on
your own — there can be risks to changing dosage
or stopping a medication abruptly.
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