Prescription drugs

Doctors prescribe medications for specific reasons. Prescription medications can carry a risk of harm. This risk increases if these drugs are used in a way other than prescribed.


Pharmaceutical and prescription drugs provide many benefits – they cure illness and enhance our quality of life. You buy them from the chemist, usually with a doctor’s prescription. Others are available over the counter, without a prescription.

Most people use these medications the right way, following the instructions from their health professional. But taking medications in a way that does not follow your doctor’s specific instructions can lead to harm.

What does non-prescribed use mean?

The non-prescribed use of medications can include:

  • Taking more medication than prescribed or directed on the packet, either in one dose or over time
  • Taking medication in a different way to what’s recommended, such as injecting or snorting
  • Using medication without a prescription and ongoing medical supervision
  • Combining it with other drugs, including alcohol
  • Undertaking activities that medication affects, like driving, working or looking after children
  • Sharing prescription medication with friends, family or colleagues.

More information on prescription drugs

For more information, visit the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website: