You get injured and are prescribed painkillers. You take them for a while, but you heal quickly and stop taking them before you use up the supply — even though the doctor told you to take them all.

You have a friend who asks you if he can have some. He doesn’t want to go to the doctor and have to pay for them. You assume that you’re not going to use them. Therefore, you might as well share them. Is this legal?

It is not. Prescription drugs themselves are legal, but only for the person named on the prescription. For anyone else, they’re illegal. Your friend cannot legally take or possess them. You cannot legally share or sell them.

Even so, the sharing of prescription drugs is very common. In one study, 37% of women from 18 years old to 44 years old said that they shared prescription drugs. Overall, 29% of women engaged in this activity, along with 27% of men.

In some cases, they do so out of ignorance. People assume that they bought the drugs, so they can do whatever they want with them. They assume that they can share them just like they would over-the-counter painkillers.

That’s a problematic assumption. If you are caught, it can lead to an arrest on serious drug charges. You must understand the laws that govern prescription drug use.

If you do find yourself facing drug charges related to prescription medicine, it’s important to talk with an experienced criminal defense attorney so that you know what legal defense options you have.