The Art of Taking Your Meds on Time and as Instructed

Medication Compliance

By Dr. Ghazal Adnan

Many psychological illnesses are long term, and thus require long term treatment.  So, sometimes, over a long period of time, a patient becomes tired or overwhelmed with taking a medication and also of dealing with the illness, so they end up missing their dosage, or fail to follow the correct instructions.  At times, some patients even tell a lie that they have taken their medication but really–they didn’t!  Thus, it is often the duty of their pharmacist to better guide them to properly take their medication in the long haul, and what consequences they can face if they don’t take their medication properly and on time.  Some patients also adopt the practice of ‘over dosage’, often what they end up doing is: they miss their dosage, so they take the two dosages together in order to compensate for the missed one.

So, it is important to have regular ‘check-ins’ for patients with certain psychological illnesses by their psychologist, psychiatrist and pharmacist to make sure that the patient is following through with their medication management.

Unfortunately, patients who follow the practice of non-compliance do not get the proper effect out of their medication, sometimes causing their condition to worsen.  Most medications are made in such a way that require proper course to be followed, and for the proper blood concentration to be maintained.  However, if a person took the first dose and then missed the second one and then took the third one, when the effect of the first dose wears off the blood concentration of the medication becomes insufficient, so during that duration, the patient is more susceptible to the symptoms of their illness.

Patient noncompliance is a multifaceted issue: as patients skip their medication, they also see no improvement, losing faith in their doctor and treatment.  According to recent research there are about 50% of patients who follow the practice of noncompliance, some of them do that because of financial reasons, while others do that because of irritability or the habit of forgetting things.


In order to create greater patient compliance there should be greater psychological counseling of patients, even for non-psychological illnesses, by psychologists and pharmacists.  Patients should receive some tools and learn better skills about time-management, behavioral consistency, self-monitoring, along with clear instructions and help about dosage, and impacts of non-compliance.  Because, after all, treatment cannot fully succeed if the patient’s behavior is not in compliance.

Nowadays with the increase in inventions and innovations in technology, it is also possible to improve compliance using certain devices and technological sources.  Many devices, Apps, Props, and other gadgets for adults and children have been developed help remind and motivate patients about their medication time and care.  For patients who sometimes misguide their health provider, some devices are available that monitor the patient over time and inform their clinical providers, of variation in blood concentration…etc.

So let’s all work harder together, clinicians, therapists, health care providers along with patients everywhere, to keep compliance of medication going for the long haul!

Dr. Ghazal Adnan is a Doctor of Pharmacy, and currently lives in Canada.

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