The Dark Side of Prescription Drugs

It’s the end of the semester and you’ve been cramming, preparing for your finals and finishing your papers. Your body is demanding sleep, but your professors are expecting you to deliver. Your roommate offers you a hit of Ritalin.


Your girlfriend brings you home for Thanksgiving to meet her family. The annual event is notoriously stressful—including a blow-out between brothers-in-law. In preparation for the big dinner, she offers you a couple of her Ativan. You rationalize using it because the holidays are a stressful time.

You know you probably shouldn't have accepted the drug, but after all, it's only for this one time. What could go wrong?

Well, for starters, you could have an allergic reation—possibly even one that is severe and life-threatening. Or, it could result in more frequent abuse of prescription drugs which can lead to addiction.

Did you know?

You may be held responsible if you provide someone with your prescription medication (such as Ritalin) and they die of accidental cardiac arrest.

What is addiction?

Addiction is when you use a drug that results in uncontrollable, compulsive actions for seeking the drug—even in the face of personal, social, or academic consequences. The use of any drug, including prescription drugs, can lead to addiction.

In addition, not all drugs produce severe physical withdrawal symptoms. For example, many of the most addictive and dangerous drugs, such as cocaine, does not cause severe withdrawal symptoms.

What if I need help?

If you need help with drug abuse or drug addiction, please contact the Personal Counseling Office at 814-898-6504 and we will provide you with appropriate resources.

What if someone asks to use my prescription medication?

Remember, medications are your own business—keep your personal information to yourself. And, keep the medications in a safe, private place that only you can access.

If someone asks to use your medication, try one of the following:

  • Explain that you don’t want to deal with anyone else’s possible allergic reaction.
  • Politely explain that you don’t have enough to share.

If you need help saying "no", contact us.

On-Campus Resources

Community Resources

Other Resources

  • National Poison Control Hotline, 1-800-222-1222