December 14, 2018
Each year in the United States, an estimated 125,000 people die from not taking their medications exactly as prescribed by their doctor. Using medications correctly at the right time and in the right way can usually prevent health conditions from becoming worse while also reducing the risk of hospitalization and death. Yet, medications are still not being used as intended approximately 50 percent of the time.
Why Don’t People Take Medications as Directed?
There are countless reasons medications aren’t being used as prescribed, and not all of them are intentional. Some people forget to take their medications or have difficulty understanding the directions. Others may stop taking their medications to avoid unpleasant side effects or because they think their medications aren’t effectively treating symptoms.
In some instances, people skip doses so they can make their medications last longer or because they can’t afford to refill their prescriptions right away. While all the above factors may seem like valid reasons not to use medications as directed, misusing medication can often lead to adverse health outcomes and fatality.
Benefits of Using Medication Properly
A better health outcome is the most significant benefit of using medication correctly as prescribed. Doctors prescribe medications to treat your symptoms and to help you manage or overcome certain health conditions. Failing to use medicines as prescribed can result in worsened health, longer recovery, unwanted side effects, substance use disorders, death, and other serious health conditions that require intensive treatment.
Using medication correctly can help you save money that would otherwise be spent on health care costs related to medication mismanagement, such as hospitalization, emergency room visits, and addiction recovery treatment.
Tips for Taking Medication as Prescribed
Before using a new medication, carefully read all the directions on the label and ask your doctor or pharmacist for help and clarification if you’re confused or unsure about how to properly take the medication. This can prevent misunderstandings that could lead to accidentally doubling up on doses or using less than intended.
Your doctor or pharmacist can also explain possible side effects you may face when misusing the medication or combining it with certain other substances. For instance, benzodiazepines should never be mixed with opioids, since this combination can result in overdose or death.
Here are some additional tips for taking your medications as prescribed:
- Use your medication at the same time every day to prevent the overlapping of doses.
- Keep an updated list of all the medications on hand, so every doctor and specialist you meet with can screen for potentially fatal drug interactions.
- Check to see whether your medications should be taken on an empty or full stomach.
- Build medication into your daily routine so you never forget to take it, such as before brushing your teeth at night or after eating breakfast.
- Use daily pill containers to help you keep track of whether you’ve taken your daily doses.
- Refill your daily pill container on the same day every week to avoid doubling up on doses.
- Buy timer caps for all your pill bottles to keep track of when you last took your medications.
- Don’t share or give away medications. This practice is illegal and dangerous and can harm those who take your medications without a valid prescription.
- Bring extra medication with you when traveling in case you stay longer than planned.
- When traveling by airplane, always pack medication in your carry-on bag to prevent damage from changes in temperature and air pressure. Also, you’ll have it on hand if your luggage is lost or damaged.
- Don’t stop using your medication unless directed to do so by your doctor, since abruptly stopping some medicines can lead to severe side effects.
Healthcare Associates of Texas has an on-site pharmacy with additional services that include prescription transfers and patient convenience delivery programs. Request an appointment today or contact us at (972) 258-7499 to learn about our many available healthcare services.