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Prescription DrugS

What is Prescription Drug Abuse? [1]

  • Taking prescription drugs not prescribed to you, even if you're doing so for the medication's intended purpose (e.g., to ease pain) 

  • Using prescription drugs in a way that was not prescribed, such as taking too many pills at one time or combining pills with alcohol or other drugs

  • Taking prescription drugs for the sole purpose of feeling good or getting high

Causes of Prescription Drug Abuse: [2]

Teens and adults abuse prescription drugs for many reasons, such as: 

  • To feel good or get high

  • To relax or relieve tension

  • To reduce appetite or increase alertness

  • To experiment with the mental effects of the substance

  • To maintain an addiction and prevent withdrawal

  • To be accepted by peers or to be social

  • To try to improve concentration and academic or work performance 

Most commonly abused prescription drugs are: [2, 3]

  • Opioids: Used to treat pain, such as Vicodin, OxyContin, or codeine

  • Depressants: Used to relieve anxiety or help a person sleep, such as Valium or Xanax

  • Stimulants: Used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as Adderall and Ritalin

Medical Consequences: [2]

  • Opioids: Can cause low blood pressure, a slowed breathing rate and potential for breathing to stop, or a coma.  Overdose has a significant risk of death.

  • Depressants: Can cause memory problems, low blood pressure and slowed breathing.  Overdose can cause coma or death.  Abruptly stopping the medication may cause withdrawal symptoms that can include nervous system hyperactivity and seizures. 

  • Stimulants: Can cause dangerously high body temperature, heart problems, high blood pressure, seizures or tremors, hallucinations, aggressiveness, and paranoia. 

Did you know?​ [1, 3]

  • Every day, more than 40 people die from a prescription opioid overdose. 

  • Prescription and over-the-counter drugs are the most commonly misused substances by Americans age 14 and older, after marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco cigarettes. 

  • It is illegal in Minnesota to possess prescription drugs without a lawful prescription as well as selling prescription drugs, whether the original prescription is yours or not.  In doing so, you could be charged with a felony

Safe Storage of Medications:

Store all medications in their original containers and in a place that children and visitors cannot easily access.  Sort through medications annually and properly dispose of outdated and unneeded medications.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Learn how to safely store and dispose of unneeded medications.

Disposing of Medications:

The best way to ensure that unused or expired medications do not contaminate the environment or get into the wrong hands is to safely dispose of them through the Drug Disposal Program.

Feel free to print the following flyer to post and/or distribute at your place of business to spread awareness about the importance of safely disposing of your prescription medications.  

Use one of four drug disposal boxes located throughout the Sherburne County Area

Household prescription, over-the-counter, and pet medication accepted, including pills, liquids, and lotions. 


The following items will not be accepted:

  • Institutional items (nursing homes, care centers, clinics, daycares)

  • Non-drug items (glucose test meters, blood pressure equipment)

  • Sharps or pointed items (needles, syringes, EpiPens, lancets)

  • E-cigarettes/vaping devices or materials

Disposing of Sharps or Pointed Items: 

  • Check with your local clinic and/or hospital to see if they offer collection programs 

  • Use home needle-destruction devices

  • Use mail-back disposal programs

(Source: MN Pollution Control Agency)

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