Possession of prescription drugs without a valid prescription or over the prescribed amount is a universally unlawful offense with severe legal and financial repercussions. Those caught illegally with prescription medications are likely to face misdemeanor or felony charges as well as penalties of arrest, prosecution, imprisonment, a criminal record, court-ordered addiction treatment, driver’s license suspension, and excessive court fines. Below is more on what happens in cases of possession of a prescription drug without a lawful prescription.
What Are Prescription Drugs?
Prescription drugs are classified as any pharmaceutical medication that can’t be legally sold or obtained without a prescription from a licensed physician. Prescription drugs include opioid painkillers, stimulants, central nervous system (CNS) depressants, and antipsychotics. These substances are lawfully and regularly prescribed to treat an ever-expanding range of medical ailments. However, despite the various regulations and acknowledged medical applications, prescription medications are commonly abused within the U.S.
Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in the nation, particularly the abuse of opioids, which 11.4 million people currently misuse, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to the opioid epidemic, depressants and stimulants are also commonly misused, especially among young adults. Due to their high potential for physical and psychological dependence, prescription drugs are all classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as Schedule II, III, IV, or V controlled substances, depending on their risks and propensity for addiction.
What Happens if You Get Caught With Prescription Drugs?
The criminal charges and penalties associated with the use, distribution, or possession of a prescription drug without a lawful prescription are dependent on the drug’s federal schedule classification and state-level controlled substance statutes, which vary by state. The severity of penalties is generally determined by the amount of the drug the person had in their possession and their criminal history. While there are differences between controlled substance statutes, the illegality of possessing prescription medications without a prescription is universal throughout the U.S.
With this in mind, prescription drug offenses related to unlawful possession are numerous and range widely from simple possession (a misdemeanor) to felony intent to distribute and to traffic. However, people with valid prescriptions for scheduled prescription drugs are also subject to legal exposure, especially if they’re caught in large quantities, concentration, or form inconsistent with their actual prescription.
For instance, people who are caught with unprescribed Adderall in extended-release capsules without a prescription are likely to be arrested and prosecuted. Additionally, those caught with an expired prescription or in possession of a valid prescription without a label are likely to be arrested and prosecuted. What’s more, those caught with an expired prescription or in possession of a valid prescription without a prescription label are likely to face misdemeanor or felony charges for unlawful possession of a controlled substance.
Can You Carry Prescription Drugs Without the Bottle?
All prescription drugs, regardless of form, are filled by a pharmacy in a container or bottle and accompanied by a prescription medication label outlining the patient’s identification information as well as the prescription name, dosage, concentration, and amount. Prescription drug bottle labels also contain the prescribing physician’s identification information, pharmacy name, and prescription expiration date.
These labels are the primary method of prescription verification and are an essential part of the lawful possession of one’s medications. As a result, in some states, it is illegal to carry prescription drugs without the original bottle. Failure to properly store prescribed medication in their original bottles coan result in arrest and criminal persecution.
Additionally, there are some states with statutory guidelines and prohibitions concerning the possession of one’s prescription drugs. In certain circumstances, these laws include a series of exemptions related to removing prescription medication for use and reasonable packaging, yet specifically prohibit storage in things like pockets, bags, toiletry kits, or any non-medical storage device.
In most states, offenses related to the improper storage of prescription drugs are prosecuted similarly to illegal use and possession. For instance, improper storage of drugs like Xanax, Percocet, Codeine, or Ambien, such as in a container other than the original one it came in, may qualify as a misdemeanor and result in jail time and financial penalties.
Possession of Prescription Drugs Not Prescribed to You
In all cases, a person caught in illegal possession of prescription drugs that weren’t prescribed to them has violated the law and will face the penalties. These penalties usually include arrest, prosecution, court fees, incarceration, and a life-long criminal history, depending on the drug classification.
Individuals caught with possession of Schedule II drugs that aren’t theirs are likely to face felony prosecution and penalties. These penalties are likely to change by state and the type of drug found in the person’s possession. As such, it’s important to familiarize yourself with your law’s specific states regarding the storage and proper handling of prescription medication.
Getting Caught High on Prescription Medication
In addition to the numerous criminal penalties for unlawful possession, distribution, fraud, and trafficking of prescription drugs, illegal use of these substances is also a criminal offense. The illegal use of prescription medication is prosecuted similarly to the criminal use of a non-prescription controlled substance. Usually, these offenses don’t result in any jail time but would leave offenders with a criminal record.
The penalties for using prescription drugs illegally are even more severe for those who are already on probation, drug addiction treatment, or monitoring conditions. Unlawful prescription drugs detected in random drug tests are also likely to result in additional criminal prosecution and penalties.
Help for Prescription Drug Abuse & Addiction
Some of the most commonly prescribed drugs, unfortunately, are also some of the most addictive pills in the world. When it comes to medications like opioids, benzodiazepines, and stimulants, the risk of developing an addiction is high, which is why these drugs are heavily monitored. There are also various guidelines and laws set in place to treat the impact of the opioid epidemic and prevent health crises like it from ever happening again.
However, as a luxury treatment center in Palm Beach, we’re well aware of the millions of people impacted by prescription drug abuse, and we offer the resources to support recovery and sobriety. Our prescription drug addiction treatment encompasses substances like opioids, benzos, stimulant medications, and more. We also offer prescription drug detox to help clients safely overcome withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
For more information about our addiction treatment in Palm Beach and how we can help you or your loved one get sober, call Seaside Palm Beach today at 561-677-9374 or send us your contact information, and one of our team members will reach out to you.