The Dangers of Self-Medicating with Prescription and OTC Drugs

It is often easier to avoid the cost and hassle of visiting a doctor and use over-the-counter or prescription medication to alleviate the symptoms of an illness or physical discomfort. Unfortunately, there are consequences associated with self-medicating that are just not worth the risks.

It is always best to discuss your symptoms and physical ailments with a trained medical professional. Getting a proper diagnosis and a treatment plan is the best way avoid any complications or health risks.

What does Self-Medicating Mean?

Self-medication refers to the practice of using prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs without discussing your symptoms with a medical doctor. Psychology Today (1) explains that the individual acts as his or her own physician in an effort to handle the symptoms of a physical or mental health concern.

The reasons that individuals may decide to self-medicate can depend on their personal situation. The Huffington Post (2) states that individuals may attempt to hide their current condition in plain sight or may be using a substance to mask their condition from others.

It may also be an attempt to resolve the issue without the cost of seeing a medical doctor or as a direct result of personal fears associated with a medical diagnosis.

Dangers of Self-Medicating

Since an individual may use a substance inappropriately, there are dangers associated with self-medicating. The National Institutes of Health (3) explains that individuals are not always responsible with the way they self-medicate and they do not have the training to identify the underlying cause of their symptoms.

Depending on the situation, the risks associated with a medication can vary; however, there are some risks that are common to many individuals.

The risks that are associated with self-medication include:

The Dangers of Self-Medicating with Prescription and OTC Drugs

  • Inaccurate diagnosis
  • Using inappropriate medications that cause side effects
  • Masking the symptoms of a serious condition
  • Delaying medical advice
  • Inaccurate dosage that leads to accidental overdose
  • Mixing medications that are not safe to mix, which may result in legal costs or health concerns
  • Risk of abuse
  • Risk of developing an addiction or several addictions

In the worst-case scenario, self-medicating can lead to severe health conditions or even death.

If you or a loved one is experiencing pain, discomfort, or is ill for an extended period of time, then it is time to visit a trained medical doctor.

Talking to a Doctor

Self-medicating is dangerous. It can cause serious problems, so it is important to set up an appointment with a doctor when any symptoms of an illness or mental health condition occur.

A medical doctor is trained to accurately diagnose the ailment and provide an appropriate medication to treat a condition or diagnosis. Explain all of the symptoms and allow a doctor to determine the cause and a treatment plan that is appropriate for you or a loved one.

A doctor may order additional testing to provide a final diagnosis. If deemed necessary, a medical professional will prescribe medication along with clear dosage instructions to prevent an overdose or limit the risk of dependency.

Do not self-medicate; instead, consult a professional

Self Medicating

Sources:

  1. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/addicted-brains/201208/addiction-self-medication
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-tian-dayton/self-medication_b_3236724.html
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20615179