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Pills aren't a cure-all for life

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Our society has evolved into one that tends to reach for a pill to treat problems that seem out of our control -- such as stress, pain, work, marriage, etc.

Many of us believe pills are a quick fix for anything and everything that ails us, improving our appearance, performance and mood.

Medications in of themselves are not bad and many do help alleviate symptoms. New drugs come on the market every day. However, many medications are not the cure.

We often see advertisements via commercials promoting a new miracle medication that will solve all your problems. Herein lies the issue. While commercials promote their products with cute animations and clever phrases, these are drugs not to be taken lightly.

Just because a prescribed drug worked well for someone with symptoms similar to yours does not mean it will work for you. Prescription drugs should always be taken as directed by a physician. In the world of drugs, "all that glitters isn't gold." Prescribed or over-the-counter medications can have widely varying effects on different people.

Taking medications prescribed for someone else is not only illegal but also dangerous. In fact, prescribed and OTC pain medications are now the most commonly abused medications in America. Abuse is considered when these drugs are not used as directed or taken when not prescribed specifically for you.

Prescription drug abuse can constitute any of the following: not taking the prescription drugs as directed, taking the prescription drug to achieve an intoxicating effect of excessive dosages, taking the prescription drugs after the directed time frame has elapsed, or taking the prescription drug for other than its intended use. Other methods of abusing prescriptions may include taking another person's medication, mixing opioids or benzodiazepines like Xanax with alcohol, or actively seeking out specific controlled substances.

When talking about medication effects, keep in mind that everyone's body chemistry is different, and people can react differently to the same medication. Misusing drugs can lead to addiction, impairment and even death. Misusing a substance over time can lead to tolerance -- for instance, the body will began to require more of the drug to reach a desired effect -- which can lead to a potentially lethal overdose.

Some people have been able to find drugs on the Internet without a valid prescription, but often times these are electronic drug dealers as opposed to street dealers. In summary, do not buy drugs over the Internet from anywhere other than a reputable company and only if you have a valid prescription. If you don't take these precautions, what you could really be purchasing is a ticket to the emergency room or morgue. Buying a controlled substance such as Vicodin or Percocet over the Internet is against the law. It is equivalent to buying marijuana or cocaine from a street dealer. For military members, doing so could result in legal consequences punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Due to the growing problem of prescription drug abuse, the Secretary of Defense released a message in January 2012 announcing that the Department of Defense would begin urinalysis testing for Hydrocodone. The Air Force Drug Testing Lab now conducts testing of specimens for Hydrocodone and its metabolite hydromorphone. The AFDTL evaluated the testing workload and increased testing on all pain medications such as Hydrocodone, hydromorphone, codeine, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone and heroin to 100 percent on Oct. 1, 2012. The purpose of this drug testing is to deter prescription drug abuse.

Should questions arise or if you would like more information on this topic, call the Demand Reduction Drug Testing Office at 734-2569.