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FindLaw Survey: 1 in 4 Americans Abuses Prescription Drugs

While many Americans worry about the damage done by illegal drugs, a new study reveals just how pernicious legal prescription drugs can be.

According to a new FindLaw.com survey, a surprising one in four Americans admitted to abusing prescription drugs. "Abuse" in this case includes using the drug other than for its intended use, or use by someone other than the person on the prescription.

With startling revelations like these about the insidious nature of prescription drug abuse, what can consumers do to legally protect themselves?

Know the Legal Risks of Abuse

Whether you're using prescription drugs to self-medicate, or if someone else is making use of your leftover drugs, be aware of these potential legal consequences:

  • Prescription drug-related DUI. Even if you're taking prescription drugs for their intended purposes, you can be pulled over and charged for a DUI while under their influence. A cop will not be impressed by you telling him that you "only" took two Xanax before getting behind the wheel. If you're driving impaired while taking prescription drugs, you can be arrested.
  • An arrest for buying/selling Rx drugs without a prescription. If you decide to sell a half-full leftover bottle of Oxycontin to your neighbor, you're essentially committing a federal and state drug crime. That includes buying or selling your pills online.
  • Liablity for overdose deaths. If you illegally share or sell your prescription drugs with others, you may be held liable if the recipients overdose and die.

According to FindLaw.com's survey, up to 24 percent of Americans admit to taking medicine that was prescribed to someone else or giving their own meds away. That may open one-fourth of Americans to serious legal consequences.

Properly Dispose of Your Rx Meds

Instead of illegally selling or giving away your prescription drugs to a friend or stranger, dispose of them legally. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency holds National Take-Back Day events where you can drop off leftover prescription drugs to be properly disposed at listed collection sites.

The Food and Drug Administration also has compiled a list of drugs you can flush, while many others can be simply thrown in the garbage after being mixed-in with kitty litter or coffee grounds.

Don't contribute to the recent statistics in drug abuse, protect your health and legal wellbeing by being smart about prescription drugs.

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