Prescription & Over-the-Counter Drugs

Do you know that it’s risky to take prescription drugs that weren’t prescribed for you, and even more dangerous if you mix them with alcohol?

Prescription drug misuse is on the rise.

As a parent, you probably worry about street drugs, but what you may not realize is that there could be dangers in your own medicine cabinet. The misuse of prescription drugs—including pain killers, stimulants and sedatives—is on the rise in Canada.

When prescription drugs are taken incorrectly, they can have harmful effects on a person’s breathing and heart rate (even causing heart failure or seizures in some cases). Some stimulants, when taken in high doses, can also lead people to feel hostile or paranoid.

  • The use of painkillers by Canadians increased by 203% from 2000 to 2010.
  • 10% of Ontario students report using a prescription pain killer that wasn’t prescribed for them.
  • 3/5 of students who report misusing prescription pain killers say they got the drugs at home.

Check your medicine cabinet! 

Some of the most commonly abused prescription pain killers include:

  • Percocet
  • Percodan
  • Tylenol #3
  • Demerol
  • Codeine
Have you heard that cough and cold medicines can be dangerous, too?

Over-the-counter medications can also carry risks.

Cough and cold medicines that contain the ingredient dextromethorphan are sometimes used to get high. When taken incorrectly, these medicines can cause impaired motor function, numbness, nausea or vomiting.

  • 6% of Ontario students report using over-the-counter cough and cold medications to get high.

When mixed with alcohol, prescription and over-the-counter drugs can have devastating effects.

Alcohol can have unpredictable effects on prescription and over-the-counter drugs. In some cases, it decreases their potency, while in other cases it can double their effects or change them all together. This can happen whether a person is drinking lightly or heavily. Furthermore, when any drug is mixed with alcohol, it can inhibit judgement and increase the likelihood of binge drinking, impaired driving and other risky behaviour.