VILSECK, Germany -- Knowing rules about being prescribed narcotics and the limitations of its use could save Soldiers from legal troubles.

Soldiers prescribed narcotics who use the drug outside the time period instructed could face Uniformed Code of Military Justice actions.

"If you are prescribed narcotics to treat moderate to severe pain, those medications cannot be shared amongst individuals, used for conditions other than what they were prescribed for and the drugs also expire after six months," said Maj. James Kenisky, Bavaria Medical Department Activity pharmacy chief. "Any self medicating after that period with that same type of narcotic is subject to UCMJ action.

If a patient continues to seek medication for pain, they must go back to a physician to get reevaluated and the physician will determine the need for a prescribe narcotic, Kenisky said.

Pharmacies throughout Bavaria have started requiring patients who are prescribed narcotics to sign documentations acknowledging that they understand the medications expire after six months and that any use after that point is a chargeable offense under UCMJ, he said.

"Usually when a physician prescribes narcotics, they are for short term use," Kenisky said.

Kenisky said that if a person gets injured after the six month period and decides to self medicates with the narcotic that it could have side effects that could impair a person's judgment, affect a person's ability to perform their jobs and place others a risk.

The Army wants to negate that kind of risk from happening, he said. Turning in these drugs also reduces another risk.

"Most people save their stuff," Kenisky said. "They don't need to keep these drugs in their cabinet where there is a risk if they have children."

The Partnership for a Drug Free America reports that approximately 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time every day. Studies show a majority of prescription drug abusers obtain these drugs from family, friends, and the home medicine cabinet.

Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications are also leading substances used in suicide, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Persons prescribed drugs are encouraged to use their prescriptions during the specified timeframe of the treatment and to return any unused drugs to the pharmacy.

Unused drugs can be turned in to Military Treatment Facility pharmacies throughout the year.