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Prescription drugs can be very helpful and effective when one is sick or dealing with an illness or a disorder such as attention deficit disorder. A doctor will often prescribe medications to help alleviate pain one is experiencing or to treat an illness. When taken correctly as prescribed, medications can be highly effective.

Unfortunately, many people take drugs that were prescribed for another individual or take more than the prescribed dosage. When used incorrectly, prescribed drugs can be as harmful as illegal street drugs.

With so much emphasis being placed on weight loss and high achievement in today’s society, it is not surprising to find an adolescent who takes ADD medication that was prescribed for a friend or sibling. When a teen hears that ADD medication decreases one’s appetite and helps a person to focus, he or she may think (wrongly) that it would help him/her to take the same medicine.

This is a fallacy.

It can be very dangerous to take drugs prescribed for another person. Physicians base prescription dosage on a patient’s weight, metabolism and other physical characteristics. Medication that is appropriate for one person may be dangerous for another person.

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An athlete who has frequent injuries may receive a prescription for pain medication to help deal with the discomfort of an injury. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to find an athlete (or any other person who deals with pain) become addicted to pain killers.

The active ingredient in prescription opioids is similar to and affects the same brain systems as heroin and morphine. While use of a drug often begins with a legitimate problem, if not carefully monitored it can in abuse and addiction.

When a person is no longer able to obtain or afford the prescription opioid, there is a high incidence of individuals turning to heroin. Heroin is readily available and relatively inexpensive. Once this cycle begins, there may be no turning back and the person may have an addiction problem that cannot be defeated.

It is important to monitor all prescription drugs that are found in one’s medicine cabinet. This includes medication that may be in the medicine cabinet of a grandparent or other senior citizen. Because prescription drugs are legal, given to us by doctors and available in nearly every home, abuse of and addiction to prescription drugs is on the rise. To protect adolescents from a potential problem, it is wise to count the drugs in your cabinet. It is also wise to keep prescription drugs in a locked area.

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Kaye Frataccia is the program manager for Around the Table. This column solely represents the writer’s opinion.

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Community Coordinator

Annette is Community Coordinator for The Times. She has been with the paper for two decades. A resident of Hobart, she graduated from Purdue University with degrees in English and German.