While there may be a difference between prescription drugs and illicit drugs, misuse of prescription medications is still illegal. These drugs can only be lawfully possessed and consumed by those to whom they are prescribed and in the amounts specified on the prescription. Prescription drugs that are commonly misused include painkillers, sedatives and sleeping pills. 

New York has specific laws that address the criminal use of prescription drugs. While it may seem like using or selling prescription medications is not as bad as something like cocaine or heroin, it can still come with severe consequences. 

Distribution

Selling or trafficking prescription drugs is a serious crime punishable by fines and jail time. There are prescription drug dealers just like there are people who sell marijuana or illegal drugs on the streets. Selling any type of controlled substance without authorization may land you with a criminal conviction. 

Diversion

Sometimes, prescription drugs are sold on a much larger scale. Doctors, pharmacists and other health care professionals have unique access to large amounts of prescription medication. These professionals may take drugs and unlawfully divert them to people who do not truly need them. Painkillers are especially sold in this manner. There is a widespread addiction epidemic that is leading to many health care professionals to create pill mills. A pill mill is a pharmacy or doctor who consistently prescribes pain medications when they are not actually necessary. 

Possession

Even just simple possession of prescription drugs can land you with criminal convictions. If a law enforcement official catches you with a drug that you do not have a prescription for, it may put you in hot water. The cops may catch you with prescription drugs during a traffic stop. 

Driving under the influence

Some controlled substances affect the ability to drive safely. Taking prescription drugs may cause you to face both DUI charges and the same punishments as if you were under the influence of alcohol.