Pharmaceutical drugs such as medicine prescribed by a doctor provide many benefits including increasing our quality of life. Most people use these drugs appropriately, following the guidance provided by their medical practitioner or pharmacist. However, the non-prescribed use of pharmaceuticals – in particular, opioids, including over-the-counter codeine, and benzodiazepines – is increasing.
The non-prescribed use of pharmaceutical medications can include:
Typically prescribed for both acute and chronic pain, strong painkillers can be effective for short periods of time, but have been proven to lose effectiveness quickly and can cause dependence. These medications can also be dangerous in increased doses or when combined with alcohol or other drugs.
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For short periods of time, relaxant-type medication such as benzodiazepines prescribed for stress, anxiety or insomnia can be helpful in conjunction with other forms of therapy, but can cause dependence. These medications can be dangerous in increased doses or when combined with alcohol or other drugs.
Read more about benzodiazepines.
In 2013, the non-prescribed use of pharmaceuticals by Australians increased to 11.4 per cent from 7.4 per cent. If you suffer from stress, anxiety, pain or insomnia and use pharmaceutical medication to treat your symptoms, you could be at risk of harm.
There are a number of steps we can take to reduce the harms of non-prescribed pharmaceutical use. To take action:
Prescribing doctors and dispensing pharmacists can access accurate information about a patient’s medication history with respect to specific high-risk drugs.