What do I need to know before I take medication?
Before deciding to take any drug, it's important to make sure you have all the facts you need to make an informed choice. As a starting point, you should feel confident that you can answer 'yes' to all of the following statements.
- what the drug is
- why I've been offered it
- what alternative treatments are available, such as talking treatments, or local support groups
- what the possible benefits and risks are, including if there is a risk I could become dependent on it
- what the possible side effects are
- how, when and how much I should take
- how long my doctor expects me to take it for
- how to store it safely (for example, in the fridge)
- how to stop taking it safely
- what different names the drug might be called.
- checked the ingredients list and I know that there's nothing in the drug that I'm intolerant to, or don't want to take (such as lactose or gelatin).
- read the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) that comes in the drug packet, and understand what it says; if you are in hospital, or you are not given a PIL with your medication, you can ask your doctor or pharmacist for a copy.
I've told my doctor:
- if I'm taking any other medication, including non-prescription medicines
- if I have any other health problems
- if I am pregnant or breastfeeding a child
- about any previous experiences I have of taking psychiatric medication – for example, what worked, what didn't and any side effects I had.
If you are unsure about any of these details you should ask your doctor or pharmacist.