Imagine your teen has a friend over after school. They’re just hanging out when the friend starts complaining about back pain. Your teen suggests they grab one of his prescription pain pills from the medicine cabinet – after all, his friend is hurt, and it’s not like they’re buying drugs off the street.

This type of scenario is all too common amongst teenagers. About one in ten adolescents from ages 12 to 17 have abused prescription drugs. And about 65% of those adolescents obtained the drugs from friends or family members.

If your teen has a prescription medication, they may not fully understand the potential health risks and legal concerns that come with distributing the medication to their friends. Therefore, it’s critical that you talk to them about being responsible with their medication.

You may start by explaining the health dangers of distributing prescription drugs. A few key points you should make include:

  • Pain medications can be very addicting. It’s important that your teen knows how addictive pain medications such as codeine, fentanyl and oxycodone can be when misused. They certainly wouldn’t want to contribute to a friend’s addiction.
  • Abusing prescription drugs can be deadly. This is especially true when prescription drugs are combined with other drugs or alcohol. Your teen may not know what other drugs their friend is taking – or how their prescription medication could interact with those drugs. Certain mixtures can have fatal consequences.
  • Prescription drug abuse can lead to other drug abuse. Teens who abuse prescription medication have a higher chance of using cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs. If your teen shares their medication, they may be opening that door for their friend.

It’s also critical that your teen understands the legal repercussions of sharing prescription medications. Here are two significant points that you should make:

  • Sharing prescription drugs is both a state and federal offense. This could potentially land your teen a permanent record and jail time.
  • Distributing certain prescription medications can be a felony. This would depend on your teen’s criminal record and the value of the medication – but it’s a real possibility.

There are many reasons a teen may share their prescription medication. They could be experiencing peer pressure, or simply trying to help a friend. But at the end of the day, sharing prescription drugs can have serious health and legal consequences – and it’s imperative that your teen knows that.