Ask the Experts

I Shared My Medication With a Friend. Now What?

“I am a freshman in college, and I shared one of my ADHD stimulants with a close friend, who begged me for it. I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do, but our friendship trumped that concern. The problem is, he told others that I let him have one of my pills, and now they are bugging me for them. Should I talk to my school counselor and come clean to avoid getting into trouble?”

Giving medication that is prescribed for you to anyone else is illegal, but it is unlikely that a single transgression involving a single pill will have legal consequences for you.

However, there is no benefit, and there is possibly some minimal risk to you, in sharing this information with a school counselor. “Coming clean” in this situation does not change the fact of your misconduct, however minor. Depending on the counselor’s qualifications and your relationship, your communications with the counselor may not be privileged. This means the counselor may be required to divulge them to the school, the police, or in court. Again, this is highly unlikely, but why take the chance?

Make sure you don’t share medication again. In addition to the legal and ethical issues involved, ADHD stimulants are called “controlled substances” because of their potential for side effects. They can do harm to individuals who are not under the supervision of a physician. Take steps to secure your medication, so others can’t get it. The legal ramifications of a single mistake are less than those that will likely occur if you become a regular source of medication for your classmates. Even if no money is exchanged, sharing your medication is, technically, “dealing drugs,” and anyone who expects you to do it isn’t a true friend.

1 Comments & Reviews

  1. This is a patronising response, and doesn’t offer any real suggestions. “Anyone who expects you to do it isn’t a true friend” – seriously? Cos things are soooo black and white?

    What about discussing some potential conversation guides for this student? Some key phrases that could be useful in perhaps confronting a friend about why they shouldn’t be asking for a pill? I was recently diagnosed, and have had to think about how I’m going to phrase my “No”, if and when I ever get asked for a “spare”.

    The big thing for this freshman to point out to their friend is that if they were to ever get caught giving away any of their pills, they would probably never in their life be able to get another script again, and that never getting another script would ruin their life.

    And if the friend doesn’t get in then, yeah, alright – THEN you could say that they are not a real friend.

    The answer provided to the freshman’s question lacked understanding or engagement with contemporary social and cultural attitudes and norms. The prevalence of recreational stimulant use presents a problem for managing medications when it comes to negotiating new social spaces. Equipping young people with some ways of saying no is a better approach, rather than just saying “keep them locked up” and “it’s against the law, don’t give your meds to your friends”. Cos der.

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