Billions of prescriptions are written in the U.S. each year. But most Americans don’t take their medications as directed.
It’s estimated that three out of four people don’t take their medications as prescribed. Non-adherence can include not taking the right dose, at the right time, or at the right frequency.
This common problem of non-adherence may not seem like a big issue at first glance, but it can cause real consequences.
What can happen if you don’t take your meds correctly?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that non-adherence causes 30-50% of chronic disease treatments to fail. Costing countless lives that may have been able to have a good quality of life by routinely taking medication.
But it’s not just individuals with chronic illnesses. Across the board, people don’t follow their healthcare provider’s instructions – and for a variety of reasons.
For example, many people don’t understand the directions or simply forget. Others can’t afford to fill their prescriptions, so they choose to take a lower dose in order to stretch out their supply. And some stop taking their medication once they stop showing symptoms.
5 tips for taking medications
Taking your medication correctly gives you the best chance to manage your health condition and improve your overall well-being. Here are some tips that can help you stay on track with your treatment.
- Communicate with your healthcare provider. Make sure you understand how to take your medication. If you’re juggling multiple medications, it can become confusing. So, don’t hesitate to ask for additional instructions in writing. Be sure to tell your doctor if a drug is causing side effects or you run into any issues with filling your prescriptions. She can adjust your medications to better fit your needs.
- Set a medication routine. Take your medication at the same time every day. Keep a written or digital schedule to remind you. Or tie it to a daily routine like eating your breakfast.
- Keep medication where you’ll notice them. Make sure they are out of reach of young children, but in a place that you can see them as a reminder.
- Use a pill container. Refill your container at the same time each week. Keep a medication checklist to help ensure you are dividing your medications correctly each time.
- Bring extra if you’re traveling. Delays can happen when traveling. Pack enough of your medication to take routinely while you’re gone, plus an extra few days’ worth. Place medication in your carry-on luggage when flying.
Your doctor can help provide additional resources to better understand how to take your medications as directed.