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Take Your Medicine

Take Your Medicine

Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop once said, “Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.”

Medication adherence shows how well a patient follows directions for taking prescription medications. Studies show that 50 percent of all patients do not take their medications as prescribed. Certain minority groups often have higher rates of medication non-adherence. For example, African Americans are less likely to have their blood pressure under control or to use effective treatments for hypertension. While the reason for this is not clear, it illustrates the need for better medication adherence.

Common barriers to medication adherence include:

  • Inability to pay for medications.
  • Fear of side effects.
  • Disbelief that the treatment is necessary.
  • Difficulty keeping up with multiple medications.
  • Confusion about how and when to take the medication.

Tips for Adherence

  • Educate before you medicate. Learn about the drugs you are taking.
  • Keep track of your meds. Don’t try to remember everything. Make a list of all your medications.
  • Create a calendar or schedule. Include the exact days and times you are supposed to take your medication.
  • Set up reminders. Take your medications at the same time each day, such as before bed or after brushing your teeth.
  • Organize your pills. Use a weekly pill organizer.
  • Plan ahead for refills. Call your doctor when you have one refill left or sign up for automatic refills through your pharmacy.

There are also plenty of smartphone apps that can help you manage your prescriptions. For more tips on medication adherence, talk to your doctor.

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