Whether synthetic or natural, taking prescription drugs incorrectly can cause you serious problems. Or worse still, it can be a question of life and death. A health study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that medicine-related illnesses cost $126 billion annually in payments related to overdue hospital stays, lost income, lawsuits, and death.

Furthermore, data from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shows that over 50% of people taking prescription drugs at any given time are doing it incorrectly. By doing so, they delay their recoveries or suffer from drug side effects. Moreover, experts say that certain medications are so complicated that doctors and patients alike, need to be educated on proper use to avoid drug side effects or even death. Drugs are not bad in any way, but they have to be taken correctly to reap their benefits. When used properly, drugs approved by the FDA would cause more good than harm.

Adhering to your medication means that you follow the routine as prescribed by the doctor or medical licensed medical practitioner. But why is that important? For this and more, read on to find out the most important details to remember before taking prescription drugs.


Misusing prescription drugs

The following statistics relate to the widespread problem of people not taking medicine as prescribed:

  • 50% of the entire time, medication is not taken as per the prescription.
  • Over 30% of new prescriptions do not get filled at the pharmacy.
  • Only 53% of patients on blood pressure medication keep taking their drugs in the entirety of their long-term treatment.
  • The majority of patients with chronic diseases take less of their medications after six months, while others stop it altogether. 

The challenge to taking prescription drugs falls on the shoulder of consumers. The FDA, on its part, suggests that medical practitioners be more informative and assertive while administering medications. But more important is the consumer because, quite simply, improper use of drugs could worsen your condition.

Another hurdle is that some patients have blind faith in drugs, are scared, or do not want to take these drugs at all. Either way, the best approach is to become a skeptical consumer, get your facts right from the doctors, weigh the drug risks, and ensure you take it appropriately.


Get the facts straight

As already mentioned, it is vital that you take your prescription drugs correctly, but before getting there, there are vital details you have to ask your caregiver or your doctor before committing to a specific medication. And to do that, make the following inquiries from your doctor:

  • What will happen if I don’t take this medication?

Research shows that over 50% of all prescriptions are taken incorrectly or not at all. That said, you will be forgiven to ask this question. That’s because you should be aware of the possible effects on your body if you decide not to follow the treatment routine or if you inadvertently take the medication incorrectly.

Patients with blood pressure, for instance, can increase the risk of heart attacks if they do not take medication. Similarly, if you are on antibiotics for a bacterial infection and fail to complete your dose, then you risk the infection coming back.

  • Let your doctor know about your existing medications

Taking two separate medications can react and cause worse side effects. Also, it is common that patients pay less attention to the less sophisticated drugs and prioritize the more sophisticated ones. 

Also, there is the increased use of over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements that go unnoticed. Your doctor must get the facts right before you embark on your drugs. Even the FDA recommends that patients inform their doctors of any medications they are on.

Other tips from the FDA you have to put in mind regarding drug use include but are not limited to:

  • Take your medications at the same time daily.
  • While on travel, take extra drugs with you in case your trip is delayed.
  • Utilize a medicine calendar.
  • Medication is best taken either on a full or empty stomach.


Prescription drugs: Tips from the FDA

  • Understand the foods and beverages to avoid while taking medications.
  • Read the warnings on the bottle labels, just in case.
  • Look out for the list of ingredients contained in drugs for the things you are allergic to.
  • Take note of the expiration dates.
  • Do not share medicines with anyone.
  • Ask your caregiver or doctor about the possible side effects with regards to the drugs.
  • How long do I have to take this drug?

It is important to know if the drug you are taking is supposed to be taken for the rest of your life or for a short period of time. Of course, for chronic diseases, lifetime medication may be needed. And even so, you might want to ask your doctor about any side effects that may come with long-term drug use.

However, there are lifestyle conditions such as high cholesterol that the doctor can’t prescribe a time frame. In such situations, the patient may need to make some lifestyle adjustments that may mean they stop taking medication after all.

  • What are the risks and benefits of taking the drug?

All medications come with their good and bad side. It is vital that you get to know what to expect as you start interacting with a particular medication. Also, it is important that you are well-versed with the possible side effects associated with the medication. This way, you may lose the element of surprise or panic when it does happen.

While there is nothing wrong with taking medications prescribed by your doctor or caregiver, it doesn’t hurt to be a skeptical consumer and ask questions regarding what you might be ingesting. Try to do your due diligence, and that might include asking your physician for their expert opinion. At the end of the day, you will settle for drugs that you are fully aware have no alternative otherwise, and it is the best medication for you going forward.