What is medication adherence?

Medication adherence is how well you take medications as prescribed by your doctor. This can include filling prescriptions on time, understanding the directions, and remembering to take your medications on time.
Why is it important to take my medications as prescribed?

Taking your medications as prescribed is important for both chronic and temporary health conditions, and for your overall health and well-being. Not taking your medications as prescribed can result in treatment failures, worsened disease, hospitalization, and possibly death. Some medications may take a few weeks to be effective; if you stop taking them, or miss too many doses, you are at risk of not gaining any benefit from the medication.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

For most medications, if you miss a dose, you should take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip it and take your regular dose. Do not take extra or double up to make up for a missed dose. If you are not sure whether to skip your dose or take the missed dose, ask your pharmacist.

If I feel better, should I stop taking my medications?

It is very important that even if you feel better, you do not stop taking your medications until the doctor has instructed you to. It is especially important with antibiotics where full treatment is necessary to kill the bacteria. Failure to take antibiotics as prescribed can result it the need to resume treatment at a later time and may lead to the bacteria being resistant to the drug. Abruptly stopping medications can also lead to an increased risk of side effects or withdrawal effect.

What can I do to help me remember to take my medications?

A calendar style pillbox is a great way to remember to take medications. If you consolidate your medications by the days of the week, you are less likely to forget to take one. Another option is using your smartphone by setting reminders and alarms when it is time to take your medication. Use daily habits like tooth brushing or mealtime to reinforce medication schedules is also a good option.

There are usually more opportunities to speak with your pharmacist than with doctors, so be sure to ask questions on how to improve your medication adherence!

Alaine Hamilton is a 4th year pharmacy student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, School of Pharmacy. She is excited to serve as a pharmacist to help people stay healthy and have the highest quality of life possible. In her free time, Alaine enjoys spending time with my family and friends, especially her newborn baby. She also enjoys working out, online shopping, and catching up on the latest television shows.