New Year, New Medicine Cabinet: Make Sure It’s Up-to-Date

By Defense Centers of Excellence Public Affairs

Take a look in your medicine cabinet. Are all of the medications up to date? Do your doctor and pharmacist have accurate records of what medicines you are currently taking? Now is the time to take charge of your medications and get organized.

Step 1: Pitch Unused or Expired Medication

Many of our medicine cabinets have bottles of prescribed and over-the-counter medications that are expired or that we no longer use. Safely disposing of these medications lowers the risk of misuse and environmental contamination. There are several programs available to help. The Military Health System has a drug take back program to help service members and their families dispose of their medications safely. The Department of Justice also has a national take-back initiative. Many local police stations also have similar programs.

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Valerie Monroy

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Valerie Monroy

Step 2: Update Your Information

Anything you put into your body can affect it, including prescribed drugs, over-the-counter medication and other supplements. It’s important to keep your doctor and pharmacy aware of everything you’re taking to prevent any negative interactions. Review all of your medications, supplements and vitamins, make a list, and bring it with you to your next appointment. Real Warriors offers tips on how to talk about psychological health with your provider. The article is a great resource to make sure you have everything you need for any doctor appointment.

Step 3: Identify Risks

Understanding how your body responds to a drug is vital. Doctors recommend limiting or abstaining from alcohol with many medications. The Human Performance Resource Center outlines the dangers of mixing prescribed and over-the-counter drugs with supplements. The website also takes a look at dietary supplements and offers resources to help understand which are safe. Prescription abuse is making headlines across the country and is a serious concern. Learn how to identify the symptoms and how to get help. Real Warriors details how misusing prescription drugs can hinder a service member’s readiness and judgment.

Step 4: Order Refills

Going without medication is risky, so plan ahead to make sure that you never run out of the medication you need. TRICARE and Express Scripts make it easy for you to manage your prescriptions at home or on the go. TRICARE has four options for filling prescriptions:

  • Military pharmacies will fill prescriptions for free for service members.
  • Home delivery is an inexpensive way to fill prescriptions through military pharmacies.
  • TRICARE network pharmacies are another option – there are over 58,000 retail pharmacies in the United States or its territories.
  • Non-network pharmacies are available, but you will have to pay full price to fill prescriptions and then file a claim for reimbursement.

A health care provider should always monitor your prescription changes. Never start, stop or change dosage without consulting your doctor.

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