It can take upwards of two months to form a habit, or so they say. Forming new habits can be hard, especially when they must be done immediately. New medications generally come with their own set of rules, schedules, and guidelines which require quick adoption in order for them to work effectively and safely. Getting organized in the beginning and asking the right questions is an important first step anytime you introduce a new medication into your life. We’ve put together some information that we hope empowers you to take control of managing your medications so that they seamlessly fit into your life without causing too much of a disturbance.
First, understand –
To understand the medication(s) you are taking, here are a few key questions to consider when meeting with your doctor or pharmacist.
- What is the name of the medicine?
- Is this the brand or generic name?
- What is the medicine supposed to do?
- How and when do I take it, and for how long?
- What is one dose?
- Should I take it with food or on an empty stomach?
- What foods, drinks, other medicines or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
- Is there any written information available about the medicine?
- What happens if I miss a dose of my medicine?
- How often will I have to get the medication refilled?
- How will I know that my medication is working?
- What are the risks of taking this medication?
- What are the risks of NOT taking this medication?
Second, organize –
Take the necessary steps to incorporate your medications into your everyday life.
Get into a routine.
Though it can take some time to establish a new routine, try using something that you already do at the same time every day to remind you when to take your medication, (i.e. brushing teeth, feeding the pets, getting the mail, etc).
Write it down or type it out.
For those of you who enjoy using calendars or keep the calendar on your smartphone up-to-date, incorporate your medication schedule into your already organized daily to-dos! Creating a chart and writing down what to take and when is also a great way to stay organized if your medication schedule is complicated.
Refill before running out.
Unless your provider has instructed you to no longer take your medications, you will want to be careful that your prescription never runs out before you have a chance to have it refilled. Allow enough time for the refill to be processed, and take into account office hours and closures for weekends and holidays.
There’s an app for that.
If you’re a smartphone user and are comfortable using apps on your smart device, then you may enjoy setting pill reminders with these apps on your smartphone or tablet: Dosecast, MedHelper, MyMeds, Medisafe, PillPack.
Third, stay safe –
To safely incorporate new medications into your life, consider these questions and concerns:
- Medications should be kept a safe distance from heat, light, and moisture. If your doctor or pharmacist does not give you storage instructions, ask.
- Write down and notify your doctor if you begin to experience any side effects or if the medication is not helping. Always speak with your provider FIRST before stopping any medications.
- NEVER share your medications with anyone. The medications you take are solely prescribed and meant for you.
- If your medication routine is too complicated, there may be a way to simplify it. Ask your provider if anything can be done to help better manage the number of medications you are taking.
- Make sure that ALL of your doctors know ALL of the prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, nutritional supplements or herbal preparations you’re taking.
- Know how to safely dispose of any medications your doctor directs you to no longer take. Learn more about how to discard prescription drugs properly at TakeMedsSeriously.org.
To learn more about opioid abuse, treatment, and recovery, the following resources lend information regarding programs and services that may be helpful: