Posted by Casey Cokkinias and Andrew Vidikan, student interns in the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services
Have you ever left the doctor’s office only to realize you forgot to ask the important questions you had about your medication? Keeping track of various medications and their instructions can be difficult. Here are a few simple tips to help you make sure your medications are working best for you.
1) Keep a record of your medications. Use a tool such as this free Wallet Card developed by the US Department of Health & Human Services to help you keep track of any medicines or supplements you are taking.
2) Know the details. You should know all of the different medications, including non-prescription medications, vitamins, and dietary supplements you’re taking. Be able to tell your healthcare provider how often you take them, in what amounts, and if you have any allergies.
3) Ask questions about new prescription medications you receive. Make sure you know when to take them and what they are for. Ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions you may have. It may be helpful to write down your questions beforehand and bring them with you.
4)Take your medications as prescribed. Some medications need to be taken with food, while others are meant to be taken only at certain times during the day. Talk to your doctor if you wish to stop using your prescribed medication or have any questions about when or how to take your medication.
5) Only take your own medications. Although sharing your medication with a friend or relative who has the same stomach bug may seem considerate, never give your prescriptions to anyone else and never take anyone else’s prescriptions. Drugs that have not been prescribed to you could be dangerous.
6) Call the poison center. If you think someone has been poisoned, free and confidential help is available 24 hours a day: 1-800-222-1222. Poison experts such as doctors, pharmacists, and nurses will provide expert advice if you have questions about your medication or if you think you’ve made a medication error.
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