Warning Signs of Misuse
Prescription drugs (when taken as directed by your health care provider) can help with managing pain after an injury or getting sleep when you are rotating shifts. For some, it can be tempting to take a little more than prescribed if you have more pain than usual or can’t sleep. Others might think it’s okay to ask a buddy to share their prescription drug if they need to be alert while on watch. These are all examples of prescription drug misuse.
What is prescription drug misuse?
Prescription drug misuse means using prescription drugs without following your health care provider’s directions (such as taking more at a time or more frequently than prescribed), taking someone else’s prescription drug or using medication for any reason other than what it was prescribed for.
If you’re wondering whether you’re misusing prescription drugs, take a second to check in with yourself.
How do I know if I’m misusing prescription drugs?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you taking more than you are supposed to (for example, two pills instead of one) or taking the medication more frequently than prescribed?
- Are you taking the medication for another reason than it was prescribed (like for a pain it wasn’t prescribed for)?
- Are you asking for similar medications from both on-base and off-base health care providers? For example, you get a pain medication from an on-base provider and you go to an off-base provider for a similar medication at the same time. Or you run out of your original pain medication, have no refills and seek a prescription from an off-base provider.
- Do you avoid talking with family or friends about your prescription drug use?
If you answered yes to any of these, you might want to think about how you’re using medications and talk with your health care provider.
Protect yourself from misuse
Here’s how to protect yourself and avoid misuse:
- Dispose of leftover prescription drugs [PDF 134KB] so you’re not tempted to take them later or share.
- Get prompt treatment for injuries or illnesses to lessen the need for long-term prescription drug use.
- Make sure you understand how and when to take your prescription drugs.
- Talk to your health care provider about non-drug alternatives [PDF 626KB] to deal with alertness, stress or pain.
If you’re tempted to misuse medications due to stress or work issues, talk with your chaplain or contact Military OneSource for confidential help.