Managing Long-term Medication

Photo Credit: Timothy Valentine

Taking medication is not always easy—it could disrupt your day, or maybe make you feel worse before you feel better. It could also make you feel moody and act differently with your friends or family. If you’re finding it hard to manage your medication, it might be a good idea to talk to someone—like a friend, family member, counselor, or medical doctor—about how you’re feeling.

Here are some tips to help you manage your medication:

Consult your doctor. It’s a good idea to talk with this person if you have any problems or questions about the medication you’re taking.

Know your medication. This means knowing both the brand and generic names for your medication, the amount you take, the side effects or other drugs that may have a bad interaction with it. A pharmacist, as well as a doctor, can help with this.

Understand your medications’ side effects. If you’re experiencing unusual symptoms while on your medication, talk to your doctor immediately. Also keep in mind that there might be things you shouldn’t do while taking a medication. For example, you might not be able to drink alcohol or take certain other types of medication.

Stick with your medication. When you’re feeling good, it might be tempting to decrease the amount of medication you are taking or to stop taking it altogether. It’s especially important that you talk to your doctor or psychiatrist before changing your dosage or stopping your medication.

Check if you’re pregnant. Some medications can affect the development of a baby. If you’re planning a pregnancy or if you are pregnant, talk with your doctor about your medication and how it could affect the pregnancy.

Keep your routine while you’re traveling. It’s important to manage your medication while you’re away from home, i.e. bringing enough for the trip plus some extra, store it carefully, and taking it at the regular times. In case of any problems with your supply, make sure you have: Your medical insurance information for covering the price of more medication; and a prescription from your doctor or psychiatrist that includes the details of your medication and provides permission for you to get more.

Airlines might have special rules around traveling with needles or other types of medications, but do not have any rules that keep you from having your needed medications with you. If you need needles to take your medication or have a bottle of liquid medicine, let your travel agent or airline know when you buy your ticket so that they can advise you on how to make your travel experience go smoothly.

Learn more about managing long-term medication


Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at, a website that helps teens get through tough times.

Special thanks: Suzanne Zane, Maternal and Child Health Epidemiologist
Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board

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