Prescription drugs are among the most commonly abused type of drug in California and throughout the United States. Though any drug has the potential for abuse, the most commonly abused prescription drugs, according to National Drug Intelligence Center, are depressants, pain relievers, opioids, narcotics and stimulants. The Center suspects this is due to the ease with which individuals can access these drugs, the affordability of prescription drugs and prescription medications’ ability to alter a user’s physical and mental state.

Users obtain prescription drugs in various ways. For instance, young people often obtain their prescription drugs from friends, family members and neighbors. Individuals of all ages who have a prescription of their own may give away or sell a medication. It is also not uncommon for individuals to steal prescription medications from pharmacies, school medical dispensaries or individuals with legitimate prescriptions.

Many abusers obtain their “fix” through a tactic called “doctor shopping,” which involves going from doctor to doctor to obtain multiple prescriptions. Unscrupulous doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals who have access to prescription medications may steal drugs or sell falsified prescriptions. Bolder individuals simply call pharmacies for bogus prescription refills or alter legitimate prescriptions.

Regardless of how a person obtains or distributes a prescription medication, if a legitimate prescription does not accompany the drug, the possession and distribution are illegal. According to FindLaw, there are three separate drug crimes the state associates with prescription medications: Illegal possession, distribution or use. Each can result in criminal charges and penalties, including jail time.