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Health, Prevention, Safety

Prescriptions: Maintenance, Storage, and Disposal

A man leans over a couch to pose with a woman who is seated, his hands are on her shoulders

At some point in our lives, we’ll end up on a prescribed medication. Whether it’s a serious health condition or simple allergies, if your doctor writes you a prescription, it’s because they believe you’ll be able to be healthier because of it. However, once you get home from your local pharmacy, it’s easy to make mistakes.

You might have heard the term “medication adherence” before. All that this means is that you are taking your prescription correctly. If you are supposed to be taking it twice a day, and you skip a couple doses, that would be a lack of medication adherence. Why is this so important? First of all, the dosage that your doctor gives you represents the proper amount in order to benefit from the medication. For some prescriptions, taking too little can mean you don’t see any positive effects of the medicine. Taking too much can lead to more problems than before.

The most common reasons for not adhering to medications are:

  • Forgetting to take them
  • Believing the medication is not working
  • Fear of the side effects or difficulty taking the medication
  • Trying to save money by “stretching” each prescription

To help you stay on track, try to find reasons that motivate you to take your medication as prescribed. If you’re on a medication that can prevent life-threatening conditions, think about your future and all the things you don’t want to miss out on. If it’s for something simpler, like allergies, think about how it would be nice to visit a friend next week and be able to breathe normally. These little reminders can help us tell ourselves to practice good medication adherence.

If you aren’t taking it because of side effects or because you believe it’s having little to no effect, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor. There may be another medication that would work better for you, and learning from your doctor is better than skipping doses.

When it comes to medication storage, there are a few things to keep in mind. Many of us keep them in a bathroom cabinet, but did you know that heat, water, and light can damage certain medications? The steam from the shower, for example, could weaken your medicine or cause it to expire early. It’s recommended you store medications in a cool, dry place, like a dresser drawer or kitchen cabinet, and always keep medications in their original containers. Wherever you keep it, make sure it’s out of reach of children and pets. Now that you’re taking it as prescribed and storing it properly, what should you know about disposing of it? The safest way is to bring them to “drug take-back” programs, which are offered by pharmacies, government agencies, and some community organizations. It’s never a good idea to flush medicine down the toilet, since this is bad for the water supply. Asking your pharmacist about safe disposal is the best way to learn more.

Category Health, Prevention, Safety
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