Many people, educated adults included, have no qualms about sharing their prescription medications with others in need. For instance, a grown woman might share her prescription pain meds with her husband, who experiences chronic back pain. A Texas college student may notice that a classmate struggles with ADHD and feel compelled to give that classmate an Adderall or two to help him or her focus. Though many share their meds out of the kindness of their hearts, giving a drug to someone who does not have a prescription for it can lead to devastating consequences.

Physicians take many factors into consideration when prescribing medications, including a patient’s medical history, his or her current state of health and any other medications the person takes. Only after making these considerations will a doctor prescribe a drug. When a person gives another person his or her own prescription drug, the giver deprives the receiver of all these considerations, thereby leaving the recipient vulnerable to a host of problems, some of which can be life-threatening or even fatal. Everyday Health details a few reasons why sharing prescription meds is a bad idea.

For one, both the prescription holder and the recipient may not fully understand the short- or long-term side-effects of the drug. If side-effects occur, the person who took the drug may not recognize or know how to handle them. Another reason to not share prescription drugs is because though the med may be safe for the prescription holder, it may aggravate an underlying medical condition the recipient has.

Typically, upon prescribing a prescription medication, the doctor will explain to the patient how to safely use the medication. Some guidelines may include take with food, avoid alcohol and do not combine with X, Y or Z. When a person takes a prescription drug without knowing the safety recommendations, he or she puts him or herself at risk for an adverse reaction.

Some other dangers include a person taking the wrong dose for his or her weight or body size, that person experiencing an allergic reaction to the drug or overdosing on a drug that requires titration.

Health consequences aside, Pharmacy Times warns prescription holders that sharing medications is illegal. If caught, a person faces misdemeanor or felony charges, hefty fines and possible jail time. If the recipient develops an adverse reaction, the state may slap the prescription holder with additional criminal charges.