Antibiotic misuse can cause immense damage and lead to the emergence of new superbugs that might leave patients without drugs, says Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.
During a conference in Edinburgh, experts said that certain infections were already becoming resistant to antibiotics.
Sturgeon said that although the rates of C difficile were now starting to fall in Scotland, the battle is leading to emergence of new superbugs as doctors rely on different antibiotics which in turn cause new cases of resistance.
She said doctors needed to follow prescribing guidelines to make sure antibiotics were used appropriately.
"The public has a key role to play as well. Too many people believe antibiotics can cure all ills. And too many people expect to get one every time they visit their GP," the Scotsman quoted Sturgeon as saying.
"We all must understand that only prudent prescribing can halt the rise in resistant infections and ensure that when we really need antibiotics that they remain effective," she added.
Dr Ian Gould, a consultant microbiologist who helped organise the conference, also said that "over-zealous" antibiotic use had driven the superbugs problem.
However, it was not just doctors and patients behind the issue.
"If you look at the whole of society, it's farmers, and fish farming. They are spraying it (antibiotics] on trees. They are painting the underside of boats with it to prevent barnacle formation," Gould said.
"The whole world uses and abuses thousands of tonnes of antibiotics a year," Gould added.
The expert warned that around the globe bugs were becoming resistant to all antibiotics, but no new types of the drugs were being developed.