You can group drugs into three primary categories in the United States. The first category contains over-the-counter medications that pose minimal risk of abuse or addiction. People can buy these drugs at a corner store to help them handle a headache or a chest cold, for example.
There are also prohibited drugs like methamphetamine and marijuana that the federal government recognizes no medical use for, which is why it is illegal to possess or use these drugs at the federal level. Finally, there are medications that pose a risk of addiction or abuse but also offer provable medical benefits.
This third category includes controlled substances and prescription drugs. Given the potential risk they represent, controlled substances are only legally accessible under the supervision of a physician.
It is common for people to assume that they can do whatever they want with their medication once they have a legal prescription for it, but that isn’t true. Some people could find themselves facing serious criminal charges in Georgia over what they do with their own prescription medication.
Improper storage or use of medication
Your right to possess and use controlled substances depends on your compliance with medical recommendations. If you do something explicitly contrary to your doctor’s orders, such as mixing your medication with alcohol or taking a higher dose for recreational purposes, you could face criminal charges should you get caught.
You could also face arrest for the possession of legal prescription medication because you put it in a different container, making it impossible for police to validate in the moment whether you had a right to possess it or not.
Having possession of someone else’s medication
Maybe your neighbor recently underwent surgery and their recovery was faster than anticipated so they don’t need their painkillers anymore. Or perhaps your loved one received a prescription for pain medication that they don’t want to use because they worry about developing a habit. Even if someone voluntarily sells or gives you their prescription medication, you violate the law by possessing and using a medication prescribed to someone else.
There are other ways that prescription medication could lead to charges against you, including driving while under the influence of a prescription drug that affects your cognition. Learning about the restrictions on what you can legally do with a prescription drug can help you avoid or better defend yourself against drug charges.