October 24, 2023

Most of us will need a prescription at some point in our lives. While the sheer number of options and the instructions can be overwhelming, a few tips from pharmacist can help you navigate your medications with ease.

This guide will help break down everything you need for understanding medications, picking up your prescription, sticking to your treatment plan, properly disposing medication and more.

Receiving a prescription

Almost 6 in 10 Americans take a prescription drug according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Even if you are not one of them, chances are there will be a time that you take some medication occasionally or have a loved one that does. Here are some basic questions to get a better understanding of your prescription.

  • What is the name of the medication?
  • What is the strength of the drug?
  • How much should I take?
  • How should I take this medication?
  • What do I take this medication for?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • When should I take this medication?
  • Does it matter if I take it with or without food?
  • Are there any foods, drinks or medications I shouldn’t have?
  • Can I take it at the same time as other medications or vitamins?
  • If needed, can I crush, chew or mix the medication?

Picking up your prescription

Armed with a clear understanding of your medications, it is time to go fill your prescription. When the pharmacist hands you your medication, do not be afraid to ask any questions you may have. Double check to make sure you get the medication, and amount, that you were expecting.

Bonus Tip: If your prescription is liquid, ensure you are given something to measure it. Never use kitchen measuring spoons to measure.

Storing your prescription

It is critical to store medications safely. Not only will this ensure it continues to work well, but it will also keep it from ending up in the wrong hands. Here are the storage basics:

  • Keep medications in the original container or pill organizer
  • Store medication in a cool, dry location
  • Ask your pharmacist if there are temperature requirements
  • Never store medications in a hot car
  • Keep all medications out of reach of children and pets

Sticking to your prescription

One of the common challenges with any prescription is medication adherence – taking a medication as prescribed. This includes not skipping does or days of medications as well as taking medications at the correct time and for the correct situation.

Here are a few tips to ensure you stick to your script:

  1. Schedule your medications on a calendar or habit tracker
  2. Try to build your medications into your daily routine i.e. with breakfast or before brushing your teeth
  3. Consider using a pill organizer to keep yourself on track
  4. Plan ahead when traveling and bring a few extra – just in case!
  5. Don’t stop taking medication just because you feel better – discuss it with your doctor first
  6. Always fill medications before you run out
  7. Be honest with your provider if your prescription feels challenging.


Understanding medications can feel daunting — but they do not have to be. By following these guidelines, you can manage your prescription and build a healthy routine with ease.