Medication-related issues can spell disaster, both for a patient and healthcare staff. For those dealing with mental health issues, safe and practical medication management practices are essential.
It takes a village — that’s the old saying. When it comes to medication management, this adage rings true. Caregivers, doctors, pharmacists, and patients need to work as a team in order to create the best medication management methodology possible. This is true even for community-based supports or targeted case management services. Both prescriptions and over-the-counter medications play a role, which means everyone involved needs to responsibly manage the process for the best possible outcome.
So, where do you start when thinking about medication management? Well, there are a few crucial tips we’ll be going over so that you can create a routine that works for you — and with you.
Learn About Your Medications
A great place to start is by learning all that you can about your medications. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist and ask questions. You’ll likely receive information regarding your medication. Make sure that you’re reading this information, especially if you’re a parent who is creating a medication management plan for your child. Be mindful of the names of your medications, the dosage, potential side effects, and adverse reactions with other medications.
Here are some helpful questions you can ask during the learning phase.
- How does this medication work?
- What are some common side effects?
- When will the medicine begin to take effect?
- What happens if a loved one or I miss a dose?
- Does the medication require food or water?
- What activities should be avoided while on this medication?
- Does alcohol have adverse effects with this medication?
- How long does this medication regimen last?
- What’s the refill procedure for this medication?
While there are certainly additional questions you could ask, these offer a great springboard for any further discourse with your pharmacist or doctor regarding medication management.
Invest in Hardware
If you or a loved one is taking multiple medications, investing in a pillbox can be an extremely helpful tool. Many individuals scoff at the idea of a pillbox, but for medication management, it can often be the best possible solution.
These boxes are clearly marked so that you know which medication you’ll need to take on certain days. For those suffering from depression or other mental health issues — a pillbox offers one less obstacle between you and your medication. It’s a worthy investment, especially if you’re juggling multiple medications.
Stick With One Pharmacy
If possible, try to use a single pharmacy. It’s simply another way to avoid any unforeseen challenges or problems that may arise regarding medication combinations. It can certainly be more convenient to stop by the nearest CVS or Walgreens, but it’s not always the best course of action.
While many pharmacies utilize electronic records that have significantly cut down on the human-error side of things, it’s still possible that information gets lost or delayed during the transfer process. So, if you want to avoid potential problems, stick with one pharmacy for your medications.
Follow Prescribing Instructions
One of the most important aspects of safe medication management is to take medication as directed. This means taking the correct dosage at the prescribed times. Whether it’s psychotropic or heartburn medication, following the prescribed directions can avoid further complications.
Some medications shouldn’t be mixed with others, which is why it’s important to ask those questions before ingesting. Furthermore, certain foods, drinks, or supplements may cause adverse reactions — so knowing all you can before creating a medication management plan is crucial.
Relay Effects to Your Doctor or Psychiatrist
Everyone reacts differently to medication, so if you’re having issues or you’re not sure if the dosage is correct — speak up. Unless your doctor or psychiatrist has told you otherwise, never increase or decrease your dosage on your own. You should always consult with your prescribing professional regarding discontinuing or changing the dosage. This is medication management 101.
Even if you’re using a telehealth provider or online mental health service — it’s important to relay information to your prescribing professional.
Keep Medication in Its Original Bottle or Packaging
This is another tip that can help individuals avoid mixing up medications. The original container or bottle has pertinent information on it, which can help with medication management and safe use. You may find:
- Dosage information
- Prescribing instructions
- Expiration dates
If a medication has expired, contact your prescribing professional for a refill if needed. Safely discard any expired medications safely to avoid a loved one accidentally taking it.
Also, store your medication properly. Some medications will have instructions regarding certain environments and conditions such as a dry, cool area — while others may need to be refrigerated. Keeping medications in the bathroom is typically discouraged as the constant changes in temperature and moisture from showers can impact medications.
Create a Clear-Cut Medication Regimen
Routines are your best friend when it comes to medication management. Taking your meds at a specific time and in the same way can greatly improve its effectiveness.
For example, your routine could include eating breakfast and immediately taking your medication after you’ve finished. Or, perhaps you shower every night before bed, and taking your medication with a glass of water right before getting in can be a part of your daily routine. Whatever your routine is, stick to it. After a while, it will become second nature.
If you need to — set reminders as a way to get in the groove. Smartphones can be a great tool, as you can set reminders or alarms every day at the same time to prompt your medication routine. If you’re not a smartphone kind of person, alarm clocks can also be a great reminder. Whatever you need to do in order to get into a healthy and simple routine can play a significant role in effective medication management.
There You Have It
There are so many ways to create or improve your medication management. For those who are just starting out on medication, it’s crucial that you get to know your medication and establish a routine in order to get the most out of your prescriptions.
It’s also a great idea to establish some sort of “emergency plan.” If, for whatever reason, adverse side effects occur, your supply is running low, or any other emergency situation arises — a plan or course of action can limit the potential dangers. Having a list of poison control, 24-hour pharmacies, and local emergency care providers handy is a great idea.