Most of us have done it. We’ve had a splitting headache or strained something. When an over the counter medication doesn’t seem to touch the pain, rather than going to the doctor, we usually scrounge in our medicine cabinet until we find some old prescription pain medication. If we don’t find anything in our own cupboard, we often ask a friend or family member for something.
Most of us don’t give this type of thing a second thought even though we’re technically breaking the law.
The good news is that most of us only do this once, maybe twice in our lives. If the pain persists, we usually got ourselves to the doctor who checks us out, diagnosis the problem, and writes a prescription for pain killers. Just like that, our little stint on the wrong side of the law is forgotten.
While people seldom get caught taking a prescription drug without a prescription, you should know that doing so has the potential to create all kinds of legal problems for you.
The first thing to consider is drug testing. An increasing number of employers have made random drug tests mandatory. If you take a prescription drug that you don’t have a prescription for it could show up in your drug test. This could result in your losing your job, and depending on who you work for, they could even turn you into the police.
The reason there is a zero-tolerance policy for taking any type of prescription drug without a prescription dates back to the opioid epidemic. The high volume of people who became addicted to opioids triggered new laws that led to a tight crackdown on who is issued a prescription for pain killers, how many prescription drugs are prescribed, and how high a dose a person can take.
Don’t assume that just because you were issued a prescription for the drugs that you’re free to take them years later. You’re not. Unless you have a new prescription, you’re no longer allowed to take those drugs.
Even if you haven’t actually taken the prescription drugs that weren’t actually prescribed to you but are caught with them on you, for example, when you’re pulled over for a traffic infraction, drug charges could be filed against you. The only exception is if you’re transporting the prescription from the pharmacy for someone, in which case, the drugs should still be sealed in the pharmacy packaging and you should have proof in the form of a receipt that you were in the authorized pickup person.
If you feel you need a prescription drug to manage your pain, it is in your best interest to visit your doctor and have them officially prescribe the medication you need.
Disposing of Unused Prescription Drugs in California
Not only is having unused prescription drugs in your house a hassle, after all, they take up a remarkable amount of space in your medicine cabinet, they can also be a legal concern. According to the law, you’re not supposed to have any prescription drugs in your house that aren’t currently prescribed to you, which includes outdated drugs and prescriptions that included a specific end date. There is also a constant concern that someone you know could take the drugs and sell them, making you an unwitting participant in an illegal drug deal.
The problem with unwanted prescription drugs is that disposing of them isn’t as easy as it should be. Environmental concerns means that flushing them down the toilet or drain is no longer a good idea. You can’t simply through them in the trash. What options are left?
The best course of action is returning the unwanted prescriptions to the pharmacies and letting them figure out what to do with them. But even this isn’t a simple process, especially since some pharmacies don’t accept unwanted prescription drugs.
The first thing you can do is contact your pharmacy and see if they’ll take the outdated prescriptions. Make sure you tell them what the medication is, when it expired, and who it was originally prescribed to.
If your pharmacy turns you down, contact your local police station and explain your predicament. The first thing this does is alert them that you’re trying to dispose of the medication which should give you a defense should you get pulled over while transporting the outdated medication. The second problem this accomplishes is that the person you speak to should be able to provide you with fairly detailed information about how prescription drug disposal works in your area. It’s possible that there is a mail-in program or that a local hospital, medical office, or pharmacy is participating in California’s Hospital Medical Waste Recycle Program, which was created in relation to Senate Bill 212.
When you’re disposing of unwanted prescription pills it is in your best interest to keep the medication in the original prescription bottle. Don’t combine different medications. If the prescription bottle is cracked or damaged, put it in a plastic baggie and consult a person who is involved in the prescription drug dispersal program on how to proceed.