Help for Prescription Drug Abuse
Those affiliated with SMU are urged to contact
at 214-768-2277 to seek help for SMU students, faculty or staff thought to be
abusing or misusing prescription drugs.
Assessments, interventions, referrals and short-term counseling, as well as
ongoing support for recovering students, are
available for those affiliated with the University.
In addition, the Health Center sponsors TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures),
which provides students with the information and skills they need to intervene
with peers who are using drugs. Call 214-768-2393 to attend a session. Program
- Learn how drugs affect people and the signs, symptoms and indicators of
- Share ideas for influencing peers to lower risk
- Develop strategies for preventing drug-related tragedies on campus
- Apply the information through discussion and practice exercises
Almost half of full-time college students binge drink and/or abuse
prescription and illegal drugs, according to
Wasting the Best and Brightest: Substance Abuse at America's Colleges and
Universities (PDF). The landmark report finds that nearly 2 million
full-time college students meet the medical criteria for substance abuse and
dependence, two and one half times the 8.5 percent of the general population who
meet these same criteria.
The National Institute on
Drug Abuse and SMU provide the following facts to help you better understand
and address the problem of prescription drug abuse:
What is prescription drug abuse?
Prescription drug abuse is taking a medication that was prescribed for
yourself or another in a manner or dosage other than what was prescribed.
Abuse can include taking a friendís or relativeís prescription to get high,
to help with studying, or even to treat pain.
What are the most commonly abused prescription drugs?
- Opioids (such as the pain relievers OxyContin, Hydrocodone and
- Central nervous system depressants (e.g., Xanax, Valium).
- Stimulants (e.g., Concerta, Adderall).
How can I help someone I suspect is
abusing prescription drugs?
When someone has a drug problem, itís not
always easy to know what to do. If you are
concerned about someoneís drug use (illicit
or prescription), encourage him or her to
talk to a parent, counselor, or other
Call SMU Counseling Services at 214-768-2277. There are
also anonymous resources, such as the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
(1-800-273-TALK) and the Treatment Referral
Whatís wrong with abusing prescription drugs?
Virtually every medication presents some risk of
undesirable side effects, sometimes even serious ones.
Doctors consider the potential benefits and risks to each
patient before prescribing medications. They understand that
drugs affect the body in many ways and take into account
things like the drugís form and dose, its possible side
effects, and the potential for addiction or withdrawal.
People who abuse drugs might not understand how these
factors may affect them or that prescription drugs do more
than cause a high, help them stay awake, help them relax or
Is it dangerous to mix prescription drugs
When mixing alcohol with a prescription drug, the results can be
unpredictable, dangerous and, at times, fatal. There is no set formula for
what will happen when an individual consumes both alcohol and a prescription
drug. Each person is different, and the results vary based on the type and
quantity of medication and alcohol ingested, the time frame involved, the
individual's tolerance to both the drug and to alcohol, as well as a series
of unpredictable, unique factors. To be safe, never mix alcohol with any
type of medication, whether prescription or over-the-counter, before first
checking with a licensed health care professional.
How do prescription drugs affect the body,
and what are the common effects?
Abusing prescription drugs can have
negative short- and long-term health
consequences. Opioids, central nervous
system depressants, and stimulants each
affect the brain and body in different ways.
Arenít prescription drugs safer than
illegal drugs, such as cocaine or heroin?
Many people think that abusing
prescription drugs is safer than abusing
illicit drugs like heroin because the
manufacturing of prescription drugs is
regulated or because they are prescribed by
doctors. Thatís true, but it doesnít mean
that these drugs are safe for someone who
was not prescribed the drug or when they are
taken in ways other than as prescribed.
Prescription drugs can have powerful
effects in the brain and body, and they act
on the same brain sites as illicit drugs.
Opioid painkillers act on the same sites in
the brain as heroin; prescription stimulants
have effects in common with cocaine. And
people sometimes take the medications in
ways that can be very dangerous in both the
short and long term. Also, abusing
prescription drugs is illegalóand that
includes sharing prescriptions with friends.
Is anyone who uses prescription drugs at
risk for addiction?
Not all prescription drugs have the
potential for abuse and addictionómany drugs
donít even act in the brain. For example,
antibiotics, which are used for infections,
are not addictive.
Play it safe. Read the information that
comes with the prescription and that is
written on the container. These will include
the doctorís instructions for how much of
the drug to take and how often, as well as
warnings about possible side effects. Read
the label and learn whether you should take
the drug with or without food, whether the
drug will make you drowsy, and whether you
can take it with other prescription or
over-the-counter medicines. Protect yourself
by taking prescription drugs
according to these instructions. That
includes the dosage prescribed and the
length of time. If you have a question about
a drug that has been prescribed for you, you
or your parents should contact your doctor.
If the drug is creating problems for you
(e.g., if you experience unpleasant side
effects or think you may be becoming
addicted), consult with your doctor
immediately. Do not make these decisions on
your own ó there can be risks to changing
dosage or stopping a medication abruptly.