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Keys to Safe Prescription Drug Use

Medication can change lives. Every day, doctors prescribe drugs to help patients improve their physical or mental health and achieve better overall well-being. Yet, no drug is completely safe. Some, especially prescription opioids, are highly addictive. You must always practice diligence and consideration when taking pills.

If a medical professional has prescribed a medication to you, it’s because they believe the advantages to your health outweigh the potential risks. However, the risks are still there. The good news is that you can take steps to avoid them.

8 Medication Safety Tips

Here are eight medication safety tips that can help ensure your prescription drug remains a tool for better health — not a cause for adverse side effects, potential health problems or addiction.

1. Ask Questions

Before heading to the pharmacy, make sure you understand why your doctor feels this medication is right for you. Learn how to take it and what potential side effects you can expect. You should also ask if it will impact your normal activities, like working or driving.

2. Understand Your Treatment Timeline

When your doctor prescribes a new medication, they should also provide you with a full treatment timeline, including:

  • When to take the medication, such as the time of day or whether you should eat first
  • When its effects will kick in
  • When and how to stop using the medication

3. Read the Pharmacist’s Leaflet or Talk to Your Pharmacist

Included with every prescription is an informative leaflet that contains valuable, straightforward information. It covers lots of key details, such as your medication’s common side effects and drug interactions. Read through it and talk to your pharmacist if you have any questions.

4. Take as Directed

You should always take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. That means taking it on time and at the right dose, among other directives.

5. Keep a List of Medications You Take

In your phone or on a pad of paper, jot down all your medications. Include details like:

  • The drug’s generic and brand name
  • Dosage
  • Prescribing doctor’s name
  • When to take it
  • Special instructions

You should also keep track of any over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals and herbs you use. Keep this list handy and share it with your doctor at your next visit. This information will help your doctor identify any overlaps or potential interactions that could be dangerous to your health.

6. Stick With One Pharmacy

Many pharmacies have electronic databases that can warn your pharmacist if a new prescription will negatively interact with the ones you’re already taking. Some pharmacies can also keep track of your drug-related allergies.

7. Stay in Touch

Be sure to call your doctor if you experience any troubling side effects. If you feel like the medication is not working or you’re having trouble taking it, let your doctor know right away rather than waiting until your next visit.

8. Talk to Your Doctor Before You Stop

If you feel like you’re ready to stop taking your prescription, be sure to talk to your doctor first. Some medications may lead to unwanted withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop. You may need to ease off your pills over time.

Know When to Get Help

Even with safety precautions, some patients find themselves struggling with prescription drug addiction. Gateway Foundation offers personalized recovery programs designed to help you break free from prescription drug misuse. Contact our compassionate team today to learn more.

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