Dangers of Drug Diversion
Many substances that have legitimate medical uses also have a high potential for abuse. However, they are dangerous when not taken under a doctor’s supervision. The government places controls on these substances, regulating when they can be prescribed to patients for medical complaints and for how long.
Because these drugs are highly desirable for recreational use, people try to obtain them without a valid prescription. This is called drug diversion. There are many means of diverting drugs from their intended purpose. It is a dangerous and costly practice.
What Forms Does Drug Diversion Take?
Many people involved in drug diversion are young people who do not understand why it is dangerous. They share their prescription medications, e.g., stimulants prescribed for ADHD, with their friends or they steal their parents’ medication. They do not see anything wrong with this because they believe that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs. However, this is only true when medications are taken as directed.
Another form of drug diversion takes place when people keep medications beyond the expiration date of the prescription. When the doctor’s order is no longer valid, it is illegal to have the medications in one’s possession. A person with a remaining portion of a drug with an expired prescription should dispose of it according to the provided instructions. Simply throwing it away could encourage diversion in the form of theft of the drug from the garbage.
When prescriptions run out, some people try to forge or tamper with a prescription to obtain more. If their own doctor will not prescribe them any more medication, they sometimes go to other doctors to try to get them to write a new prescription.
Sometimes the people in charge of prescribing or dispensing the drug are involved in diversion by writing or filling bogus prescriptions or stealing the drug outright. The purpose may be to feed a personal drug habit or to make a little extra money by selling the drug illegally.
What Are the Consequences of Drug Diversion?
Despite misconceptions about the relative safety of prescription medications, more people die every day due to the misuse of prescription painkillers than from cocaine and heroin combined. Drug diversion raises the costs of assistance programs like Medicaid that provide health coverage to people who really need it. Diversion is also illegal and can incur harsh penalties.