/ 5.10.24

Illegally Sharing Prescription Drugs

Written by: Doug Ridley

Is Sharing a Prescribed Drug against the Law?

Facing a drug charge can be a daunting experience, especially when the alleged offense involves the sharing of prescription drugs. Many people don’t fully understand the legal implications that surround prescription drugs and are shocked to find they have possibly committed a criminal offense. In this article, we explore whether it is illegal to share prescription drugs with others and go over the potential consequences you may face if you have been charged.

Have you been charged with a drug crime in Southern California? The drug crime lawyers at Ridley Defense can help. Our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers knows the ins and outs of the legal system and will do everything possible to defend you against the charges. Call (805) 208-1866 today to arrange a free, no-obligation case review.

What Is Considered a Prescription Drug?

A prescription drug is any medication that is legally available with a valid prescription from a doctor or other healthcare professional. A prescription drug is carefully prescribed to an individual based on his or her specific needs or medical condition. The use of a prescription is monitored to ensure they receive the proper amount. However, many people are unaware that sharing a prescription drug without a valid prescription is considered illegal.

What Prescription Drugs Typically Result in Drug Charges?

While virtually sharing any prescription drug could land you in hot water, some of the most commonly misused or shared prescriptions include the following:

Opioid Painkillers

Drugs like oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine, and fentanyl are powerful pain relievers. However, when these painkillers are misused, they can lead to not only dependence but addiction. 


Prescription meds such as alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), and diazepam (Valium) are prescribed to treat sleep disorders and anxiety. Benzodiazepines or “benzos” have a calming effect on the central nervous system. Abuse of these drugs can result in sedation, respiratory depression, and ultimately addiction.


Primarily used for the treatment of opioid addiction through medication-assisted treatment (MAT,) methadone, when not used as prescribed, can lead to dependence and addiction.


Adderall (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) and Ritalin (methylphenidate) are prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When these stimulants are used without a prescription, they can increase energy and focus but also carry a high risk of addiction.


While antidepressants don’t pose the same risk of abuse as some other classes of prescription drugs, some serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are often misused for their mood-altering effects.

Sleep Medications

Sedative medications like zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta) are prescribed for short-term treatment of insomnia. Misuse can result in impaired coordination and sedation.


Prescribed antipsychotics, such as quetiapine (Seroquel) and olanzapine (Zyprexa), typically used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, may be misused for their sedative effects.

Can You Be Charged for Sharing or Accepting Prescription Drugs?

Whether you gave or received a prescription drug, you can be charged with a drug crime under California law.

Potential Consequences of Sharing Prescription Drugs

If you are caught sharing prescription drugs, you may face several serious charges. Some common legal repercussions include the following:

Criminal Charges

Most jurisdictions classify the unauthorized distribution of prescription drugs as a criminal offense. Offenders may be charged with crimes such as drug distribution, possession with intent to distribute, or even drug trafficking, depending on the quantity involved.

Fines and Penalties

Those convicted of sharing prescription drugs may face fines and penalties imposed by the court. The severity of these financial consequences will depend on the specific charges and the legal framework of the jurisdiction.

Time in Jail

In more serious cases, individuals convicted of sharing prescription drugs may face imprisonment. The length of the sentence will vary based on factors such as the type and quantity of drugs involved, the individual's criminal history, and the presence of aggravating circumstances.

Loss of Professional Licenses

Healthcare professionals, in particular, may face additional consequences, such as the loss of their professional licenses. Sharing prescription drugs without proper authorization violates ethical standards and can lead to severe professional repercussions.

A Criminal Record

A conviction for sharing prescription drugs can result in a permanent criminal record, which may have long-term consequences for employment opportunities, housing, and other aspects of life.

Talk to a Ventura Criminal Defense Lawyer for FREE

While sharing prescription drugs with anyone is illegal, if you have been accused of distributing or taking prescription medications in California, turn to Ridley Defense. Our team of drug crime attorneys will do everything within our power to protect your freedom and future. Give yourself the best chance by contacting us online or calling our office at (805) 208-1866.

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