Does Not Adhering To Medication Regimens Make You A Bad Patient?

Last updated: July 2014

For most of us, prescription medications, whether oral, injectable, or intravenous, are key to treating RA.

Some of us are lucky enough to find a medication that works, and then we stay on it for as long as possible.  Many of us either have a major flare that necessitates a medication change, or a medication simply stops working, and then we move on to another one.

While taking your medications as directed doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to feel good, it is an important part of the process.

For instance, my body is fairly finicky.  If I don’t take my daytime medications before 11:30 a.m. or if I take my nighttime medications after 1 a.m., I might as well not take them at all.  So I have a pretty small window in which my medications seem to work the best for me.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I never have a bad day if I take my medications within those parameters – if only it were that easy – but it means that if I screw up, I am almost certainly guaranteed to have a bad day.

I think many of us get frustrated when we are on medications that don’t work.  It’s really easy in those moments to swear off medication altogether.  Like what’s the point if they don’t seem to be working?

I think there is also temptation, however, when you find a medication that works and you are feeling pretty good, to try and push the envelope and see if it really is the medications that are making a difference.

I know, for me, there are times when I want to just swear off the medications.  Sometimes it feels like it would be easier without them; not being tethered to schedule or anything like that.

The only medication that I really police myself on is prednisone.  Of course, I take it, but my favorite thing is to be on steroids as needed, which usually means I take them very rarely.  Otherwise, I do try my best to comply with my doctors’ orders.

And of course, sometimes medications don’t meet our expectations, no matter how vigilant we are about taking them.

Nothing is more frustrating when your labs come back normal, but you still feel bad.

So here’s an important question, as the title of this post suggests: Does not adhering to medication regimens made you a bad patient?

My answer is that, no, not adhering to medication regimens does not make you a bad patient.

Sometimes there are very valid reasons for non-adherence.  Other times, I think burn out, and having to deal with chronic illness on a daily basis, just can be, and often becomes, really overwhelming.  And we try and fight for control, even if that control means making a decision not to take our medications.

Of course, I’m not advocating not taking your medications just for fun.  But as a patient with RA, I totally and completely understand.

What do you think?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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