You most likely have a medicine cabinet stocked to the brim with over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, that is, medicine you’ve purchased at the store without much hassle. It was easy to obtain, moderately expensive, and can be acquired without the permission of a anyone at any grocery store around the country. But OTC medicines are still dangerous. They list side effects, you can overdose on them, you can die when you take it improperly or if the medicine was made improperly. So why can we access these medicines so easily while prescription medication requires a doctor visit?
That’s because prescription drugs are targeted toward the individual they are being prescribed for with their specific health condition and history in mind. Your doctor has to consider many different factors when prescribing medicine and as such, prescription medicine can’t be sold to the general public. For example, you will never see an OCT hyperactivity disorder medicine available next to the Tylenol and Pepto Bismol because there are dozens of different ways to achieve the desired effects of ADHD treatment and administering the wrong one to the wrong person can be fatal.
With that in mind, also consider the risks of administering medication that can have extremely negative side-effects to the general public. If anyone made an uneducated decision about which medicine to buy, or were buying it for addiction purposes, lives would be at risk. So basically, the primary difference is the degree of suffering one would incur from using an OTC drug incorrectly versus the amount of damage using a prescription drug would induce. While I do not want to diminish the ramifications of using OTC medicine incorrectly, you do have a higher chance of survival from taking a pain killer you don’t need instead of taking a heart medication you don’t need or a blood thinner you don’t need.
If given the chance to buy prescription medicine in an OTC fashion or simply borrowing it from someone else, turn it down. You will most likely suffer the effects of bad medicine.