According to a 2017 survey, 55 percent of Americans are taking prescription medications on a regular basis. Those who take prescription drugs take an average of four separate medications.[1] Taking more than one medication can become complicated. Patients who take even one medication should be aware of drug interactions, how to avoid them, and how to find out what they are.

Drug Interactions and Over-The-Counter Drugs

You may only take one prescription drug every day, but if you also take a daily vitamin or supplement, you need to check that it doesn’t interact with your medication. Your medication may even interact with over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that you only take periodically. Whatever the drug, and whatever the purpose for the drug, it can interact with others that can make it less affective. Known interactions are listed in drug information for the safety of consumers because some drug interactions can have serious ramifications. For instance, an antihistamine and a sedative taken together can cause drowsiness and slow reactions that can put you in danger behind the wheel. Some antibiotics can decrease the effectiveness of oral contraceptives, causing an unplanned pregnancy. It’s important to know your medications, and understand drug-to-drug interactions.

Get to Know Your Labels

When you read the information that comes with your medication, you may find that it shouldn’t be taken with certain foods or drugs. If you routinely eat a certain food, or take a medication that is listed, you should consult your doctor about taking this drug. It may be that you can consume the listed foods or drugs X number of hours after taking the drug. For instance, taking supplements within four hours of levothyroxine can cause the body to absorb less of the drug. Some drugs, such as antidepressants, can be deadly when combined with drinking alcohol. If you are given a drug and advised not to drink alcohol or eat or drink a certain thing while on this drug, it is not a suggestion; it is medical advice. Reading the drug information provided by the manufacturer and the pharmacy is the best way to prevent a dangerous drug interaction. It’s also the best way to identify symptoms of drug allergies and serious side effects.

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Things to Consider When Starting Your Med

When your doctor prescribes a new drug, the pharmacist usually consults with you. This would be a great time to ask the pharmacist if your current medications will interact with the new one. If the doctor prescribes it, and the pharmacist gives you the go-ahead, then the rest is up to you.

  • Read the drug information that comes with your medication
  • Check the generic name and active ingredients to avoid an allergic reaction
  • Check the generic name and active ingredients to avoid overdosing on certain drugs
  • Pay attention to your drug’s effectiveness so that you can notify your doctor of changes
  • Keep a complete and current medication list to give to your doctor




Opioid abuse is a serious issue in America today. Substance abuse disorders affect more than 20 million Americans every year.[1] Every day of the year, more than 90 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, which includes prescription pain killers, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Not only is opioid abuse itself dangerous, but it leads to heroin use and addiction in 4 to 6 percent of opioid abusers.[2] This epidemic—the misuse of addictive opioids—drains families, communities, and the economy at alarming rates. Because of the severity of the problem, pharmaceutical companies, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Center for Disease Control is working in different ways to address the serious issue of opioid abuse in America.

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

There are drugs currently on the market that are effective for opioid abuse disorder, including buprenorphine, methadone, and extended release naltrexone. The best treatment for opioid abuse disorder is a combination of medication along with behavioral therapy. This method, called Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), has been effective in decreasing opioid abuse, opioid-related overdose deaths, criminal activities, and infectious disease transmission for many years.[3] A patient with Opioid Abuse Disorder can benefit from individual and group counseling, recovery support services, 12-Step programs, and peer support. Because of the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment, most inpatient/residential facilities and hospital programs utilize this method of treatment. MAT is most effective when patients are introduced in the emergency department rather than referred by a primary care physician.[4] The medical field and pharmaceutical industry is proactive in researching and implementing methods and treatments that work in order to provide better access to effective treatments.

FDA Approves First Once-Monthly Buprenorphine Injection

On November 30, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Sublocade, the first once-monthly injectable buprenorphine product used to treat adults with moderate-to-severe opioid abuse disorder.[5] This method of treatment is for adult patients who have used buprenorphine in another form for at least seven days and can benefit from a once-monthly administration. This move is one more step toward improving access to preventative services, treatment and recovery services, and medication-assisted treatments. Sublocade should be combined with counseling and psychosocial support for best results, and should be administered by a health care professional subcutaneously (under the skin). In order to be approved by the FDA, Sublocade underwent extensive tests, manufacturing standards, and has proven that the drug’s benefits outweigh it’s known risks.[6] An FDA approval means that patients can begin benefiting from Sublocade as soon as possible. If you or someone you know could benefit from medication-assisted treatment for opioid abuse disorder, consult your doctor about treatment today.

Preventing Opioid Abuse Disorder

Community education is one of the best ways to prevent opioid abuse disorder, sometimes called opioid addiction/dependence/abuse. The best way to prevent this epidemic in your household is to follow prescription drug labels correctly, talk with your doctor honestly about signs and symptoms, and consider alternatives for pain management such as pain clinics and lifestyle changes.

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Americans have more access to technology than ever before, and it’s not just computers. Today, 68 percent of Americans have smartphones, and 45 percent have tablets.[1] With more and more consumers using smartphones and tablets, tech developers are capitalizing on this trend. It’s time we did too.

An App for That

Millennials probably recognize Apple’s trademarked phrase “There’s an app for that”. It’s catchy, and it’s true. There seems to be an app for everything, no matter what kind you have. If you have a smartphone, smart watch, or tablet, there are countless apps you can download to help manage your health.

  • Fitness Apps

    A simple search in your app store can reveal many fitness-related apps that can help you keep track of your fitness, plan your fitness, and even show you how to be fit. You might find a fitness database, or you may find an exercise system or website that has a nice app.

  • Nutrition Apps

    Right alongside the fitness apps are some meal recording apps to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Some apps may even combine fitness records with nutrition—the perfect recipe for weight loss and health.

  • Sleep Apps

    You can record your sleep habits as well as find apps to help you sleep on your smartphone. Sleep is important for your physical and mental health, and too many Americans are sleeping too much or not enough. If you think you need a sleep aid from your physician, record your sleep habits before you consult your doctor so that you can better identify the problem.

  • Health Apps

    Whether you have an Apple or Android smartphone, you may have the best resource hidden right under your nose. Your health app may connect to your favorite fitness and diet apps. It may record your pulse, your blood pressure, laboratory test results, and more. Record your medications and symptoms in your health app so that it’s all in one handy location when it’s time to visit the doctor. No more will you get to the doctor and forget the date of your last menstrual cycle or panic attack. You have your very own health record at your fingertips when you use your smartphone.

  • Charting Apps

    Ask your health care provider if they participate in an online charting system. When you use a charting app, you can review test results, medications, immunizations history, and more. You can contact your physician or clinic staff, upload health and fitness data, view and pay your bill, and access your family’s health information. If your hospital or clinic participates in a charting website or app, you will create a secure user login and no one will have access to this information but you and whomever you allow access.

You can use your smartphone for more than just games and social media. You can use it to help manage your health. Talk to your cellular provider about a phone that can work best for you.

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Drug Lookup