Prescription drugs can save someone’s life or help them manage difficult symptoms, but they could also lead to addiction, interact with other medications or result in an overdose. Federal and state laws aim to protect the public through controlled substances regulations.
Limiting who can possess and use prescription drugs helps prevent overt abuse of potentially useful medications. Narcotic painkillers and similar drugs exist because they have legitimate medical uses. However, many of them also have illicit uses that make them popular and profitable products on the unregulated secondary market.
Even those with valid prescriptions can break the law. Some of the things that could lead to criminal charges include:
- Putting frequently abused medication into different packaging
It is usually wisest for individuals with a prescription for frequently abused medications to keep that prescription in the official vial or packaging provided by the pharmacy. Official pharmacy vials make it clear that you have a valid prescription for the medication, making your possession of the medication less suspect.
- Sharing your medication with someone else
You and your insurance company incurred expenses in the purchase of your medication. It technically belongs to you and is a valuable resource, so it might seem logical to share it with a family member in need or give it to someone who has a prescription for the same medication.
However, if the police discover that you distribute your medication to others, you could potentially face criminal charges. That is especially true if the person using your medication causes harm to others, possibly by causing a car crash due to impairment.
- Intentionally violating the orders of your physician
The physician who prescribes your medication will typically include instructions about how to safely use it and the dosage and timing for proper administration. When you take too much medication at once, mix it with alcohol despite instructions warning against doing so or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of narcotics, your actions violate the terms for the prescription. Your possession and use of the drug could constitute a crime.
Drug charges stemming from prescription medication use can lead to incarceration, probation and even the loss of your professional license if you work in a skilled trade or professional environment. Defending yourself against such allegations often requires a careful analysis of the evidence against you and an understanding of controlled substances law.