Buying prescription drugs online is a disturbing trend that may have far-reaching health implications for users of these medicines. The FDA’s launch of the Be Safe Rx campaign is an indication of just how widespread and worrying this problem is

But what exactly is the problem? Is the FDA protecting big pharma? That’s definitely not the case. The FDA is a non-partisan organisation. But what the organisation is trying to achieve is heightened awareness about the dangers of buying prescription medications from dodgy online sources.

What’s wrong with the drugs you buy online without a prescription?

Many unscrupulous online pharmacies claim to offer ‘cheap generics’ without a prescription. They may assure you that the drugs were produced in a facility that’s up to US safety standards, but how do you actually know what you’re getting? The answer is, you don’t.

If you’re ‘lucky’, you’ll get a harmless placebo that does absolutely nothing, but there have been much worse case scenarios. People have received counterfeit drugs that attempt to mimic the effects of the real thing and that are positively dangerous. Others have received expired drugs that aren’t safe to use any more, and even if you do luck out and get the ‘real thing’ you have absolutely no idea of the conditions it was manufactured under.

The drugs could be contaminated. There has even been talk of rat-droppings found in analyzed medicines that were intercepted by the FDA – and they could kill you. A 17 year old boy who ordered Vicodin online was found dead after using the prescription painkiller that he’d bought online and a school teacher who bought ‘seeping pills’ online was given a powerful antipsychotic that affected her so badly that she had to be hospitalized.

As many of these so-called ‘pharmacies’ cover their tracks very well and ensure that they can never be found, they aren’t even held accountable for the ways in which they ruin people’s health.

Why do people buy drugs from black-market pharmacies?

Some people are just in ‘too much of a hurry’ to see a doctor, some are buying drugs for embarrassing conditions that they don’t want to talk to their doctor about, and some of the victims of fake pharmacies are people with a huge problem: they’re addicted to prescription drugs and simply can’t get enough of them legally any more.

What should you do if you’ve bought drugs from a suspicious online pharmacy?

The easy answer is to flush them down the toilet and never buy from such a source again. Even if the medicines seem to have been working, the quality standards and ethics of the manufacturers who are willing to supply an unaccredited source with large volumes of prescription drugs are, at best, questionable.

But what if you simply can’t do without these medications? You experience horrible side-effects when you stop taking them, and although you know you shouldn’t take as much of the medicines as you do, you seem to need more of them all the time.

If this is you, it’s time to face facts. You are the victim of an addiction, but you shouldn’t allow yourself to become a victim of what are, essentially, drug dealers. And you don’t know what you’re getting. You can buy from the same supplier and get something completely different next time around. It’s time to escape from being a victim, but you have to make the first move.

Only you can save yourself- but others will help

The first thing you need to do is to go and see your doctor. Although you may feel ashamed to talk about what you have been going through, a doctor will understand your problem. It probably won’t be the first such case he has seen either. Your doctor will discuss your options with you, and provide you with all the information you need on various treatment methods.

Do consider going for inpatient rehabilitation if it is recommended for you. You can see it as going to a health spa if you don’t like the term ‘rehabilitation center’. The big advantage of doing this is that you’ll have all the help and support you need to get through the difficult early stages of detoxing your body from the medicines you’ve been taking.  Some of them will even offer you aftercare support if you need it.

If you have been buying prescription drugs online, you have to ask yourself why you have been taking such a risk. It could be that you have a problem and need help.