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The Danger of Prescription Drug Misuse

drug misuse

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The Danger of Prescription Drug Misuse: Prescription drug misuse involves obtaining and taking these drugs without a doctor’s consent or for a non-medical purpose.

Teens and young adults are at risk of abusing said medications not only because they are easily accessible but also because of a lack of knowledge about their adverse effects on the body.

Drugs are unpredictable and can affect a person in different ways. It is essential to know how to prevent misuse of prescriptions to avoid future complications.


What is Drug Misuse

Drug misuse is generally associated with prescription medicines, only meant to be taken per doctor’s orders. Failure to do so can cause adverse side effects to the person.

Examples of this include the following scenarios:

  • Taking an incorrect dose of drugs
  • Taking medications at the wrong time
  • Forgetting to take a pill or stopping it too soon
  • Taking medications for reasons other than prescribed
  • Taking other’s medication drugs

The critical difference between drug misuse and drug abuse is the person’s intent. The former takes medications for treatment purposes, whereas the latter uses them to elicit certain feelings.


The Danger of Prescription Drug Misuse

Misuse of prescription drugs has become a rising public health problem in Australia. It can lead to addiction and death from overdose.

A 2020 report shows that about 900,000 Australians have used prescribed drugs for non-medical purposes over the past 12 months. A steady rise in these numbers can bring a negative impact on public health and functioning. Many people take it as a form of drug dependence or may develop problematic or harmful behaviour.


drug misuse


There are three types of drugs that get misused often. These include opioid painkillers (for pain relief), central nervous system (CNS) depressants and tranquillisers (for anxiety medication), and stimulants (for ADHD treatment.)


Signs and Symptoms

The common signs of drug misuse are the following:

  • Abnormal pupil size
  • Convulsions
  • Delusional or paranoid behaviour
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating or having dry, hot skin
  • Loss of consciousness (coma)
  • Violent or aggressive behaviour


Prevention and Treatment

Drug misuse can result in an overdose which is a medical emergency.


First Aid for Overdose

  1. Remain calm – both responder and patient. Panic only worsens the situation.
  2. Check for airway, breathing, and pulse. If the patient loses consciousness, loosen the clothing, keep them warm, and provide reassurance. If you suspect an overdose, try to prevent the person from taking more drugs. Call triple zero (000) for medical assistance.
  3. If the patient starts having seizures, perform first aid for convulsions.
  4. Monitor the patients’ vital signs such as pulse, breathing, and blood pressure.
  5. Once the patient stabilises, try to determine what type of drugs they took, the amount, and when. Provide this information to the emergency dispatcher, so EMS is aware of the situation.

Prevention of drug misuse will require certain efforts. First, understand how substance misuse develops, know its risk factors, and focus on your goals. These help a person focus on what is essential and realise that drugs only hinder their successes.

Share these first aid tips to prevent and treat drug misuse and help promote a healthier lifestyle free from addiction.



Prescription medications have many beneficial effects on overall health. When taken under proper medical supervision, these drugs help people live longer and healthier lives. However, misuse or abuse of such medication also has its effects. It can lead to several dangerous side effects, such as heart problems, high blood pressure, hallucination, aggressiveness, and paranoia.

Drug misuse may overload a person’s system, putting them at risk of seizures, coma, and even death. Learn first aid to know how to treat overdose and other complications from improper use of prescription drugs. 

Visit First Aid Courses Darwin for more information.

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