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Mariah's avatar

What's the big deal about taking a pill?

Asked by Mariah (24651points) September 8th, 2011

There are two people very close to me who recently have been prescribed medication but are failing to take the pills. They do not disagree with the doctor about the necessity of the medications. They just appear to believe that taking the pill is a large inconvenience. I don’t think this is an uncommon phenomenon, either.

I can’t understand their mindsets. I think being ill is a lot more inconvenient than swallowing some water at the beginning of the day. Can you help me understand what’s going on?

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19 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I always assumed it was because people forget to take medication if they aren’t accustomed to taking something regularly.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

What I do is use a small pill box and throw the two pills I have to take into that in the morning. Then I take the pills sometime in the afternoon. All I have to do is shake the pillbox to see if I remembered to take the pills. Otherwise I might forget.

Blackberry's avatar

I know people like this, too, and it may have something to do with what @ANef_is_Enuf said. But I think it’s strange that they have such a problem incorporating this small task into their routine.

picante's avatar

The reasons likely vary by individual. I’m “anti pill” by nature. I generally feel that doctors overmedicate. And please know that I’m not telling anyone to get off any medication that has been prescribed—only you and your doctor know best. But I question everything.

Then, using my MIL as the example, she feels that the medications are used to sustain her life when the quality of her life is diminishing. That’s a whole other cans of worms.

As you’ve stated the question, Mariah, it is hard to fathom why/how someone would be inconvenienced by a process that should improve his/her health—maybe they’re just of a mindset where it’s hard to change a daily routine in any way.

Vunessuh's avatar

I’m not sure it always has much to do with just swallowing the pill. I personally have had bad experiences with prescription medication and don’t want to put anything else like it in my body, especially if I can find healthier ways to manage my problems. I think it’s very smart to do research behind what your doctor is prescribing you regarding what the possible side effects are and past experiences of other people rather than blindly trusting ANY medication. People have the right to say no, regardless of doctor advice. Some doctors can and do overmedicate. Although, I understand some health issues are severe enough to really need and benefit from medication – people have to use their own discretion.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Hopefully these pills aren’t antibiotics.

tom_g's avatar

Like @picante I’m rather anti-pill primarily because I happen to be capable of reading and know that doctors overmedicate. However, the original question had to do with someone who had no problem having been prescribed the pill. I have no idea why this would happen.

janbb's avatar

Guess it depends on the individual and their attitude to taking medication. If they agree that they should be taking it, it seems foolish not to. However, there is a stigma against medication in this society and particularly psychotropic drugs so that may be a factor in their reluctance.

Sunny2's avatar

Some people don’t know how to take a pill, especially a really big one. Keep your head straight, tipped neither up nor down. Put the pill on the tip of your tongue. Drink a big gulp of water. Really really big pills may need a second try.
As for not taking medications? I don’t know. Reluctance to trust, perhaps.

Mariah's avatar

Well I feel like a big dummy because it didn’t even occur to me that they might simply be forgetting. xD I’m still not so sure that’s what’s going on, though. One of the people in question even said before her doctor’s appointment, “I hope he doesn’t prescribe anything because I know I won’t bother taking it.” The other person may simply be forgetting, though.

@Vunessuh Yeah I understand that mindset, but I don’t think that’s what’s going on. I included the sentence “they do not disagree with the doctor about the necessity of the medications” in the original post because I wanted to indicate that that’s not the issue here. At least according to what they have said, they agree that they need some treatment.

It’s just driving me up the wall because one of the medications is for something quite serious, and the other one is not too serious, but she’s complaining about the way she feels while not taking the medication that might help her. I guess it’s not fair for me to judge other people’s decisions, though.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Mariah My mom waits until she’s almost dying in pain to get to the doctor. Usually she comes home with a prescription for an infection (antibiotics and maybe something else, too) which she’ll then “decide” whether she’ll take it or not. Why?! I haven’t the slightest idea…and I’ve lived with her all of my life.

It’s like a passive-aggressive medication disorder.

Sometimes it’s because she knows some antibiotics make her extremely ill, somtimes it’s a bother…other times she sipmply doesn’t feel she needs meds. But then why’d she go to the doctor? She knew he’d give her something for whatever is ailing her…

My answer: I’m not certain why, but some people are just this way.

I know the opposite type, also. My sister rarely questions anything her doctor gives her and takes a pill even if she has a strong reaction to it. If I question why she’s taken it, she says she trusts her doctor.

Vunessuh's avatar

@Mariah Alright, perhaps they don’t like the fact that they have to take medication to feel better, so in spite of it, they just won’t take it as kind of a big “fuck you” to the meds and the illness.
Or, do either of your friends happen to receive a lot of sympathy and attention for being sick? Maybe they don’t want that to stop so they don’t want to take anything that could make them feel better. I know it sounds totally far-fetched and fucked up, but I have known people like this. They avoid anything that could help them so people will coddle them.

Buttonstc's avatar

Personally, I have pretty narrow esophagus and most pills get stuck regardless of what technique I use.

If it were not for pill splitters, I literall would not be able to take them.

I absolutely can’t take any which are time-release since they can’t be cut into so I’ll glady take whatever necessary 3–4 per day in preference to choking on one a big old time-release horse pill.

And I wouldn’t dream of skipping my blood pressure med even tho there is no apparent immediate benefit. It’s consistency over time that matters the most for meds of this type.

If that’s the type of meds she’s skipping she is extremely foolish indeed. The only solution for that is education to combat the willful ignorance.

But, in the end, it’s her life (literally) or the lack of it.

Seaofclouds's avatar

My husband and I both would rather not be on pills (of any kind) for the rest of our lives. We’ve talked about this numerous times. He is facing possibly needing cholesterol medications and he hates the idea of needing to be on a pill every day for the rest of his life. Yes, it’s a quick and easy thing to do (swallowing the pill that is), but for him, he sees it as a bit of a leash (I think that’s the best way to describe it). For me, I’ve seen so many elderly patients that have a ton of pills they take on a daily basis. So many, that they get to the point that they are taking one pill because of the side effects of one pill and then another for the side effects of that pill. I plan to do everything I can to avoid ever getting into that situation. Sometimes I wonder if some of these patients would be better off stopping everything and starting over again.

Hibernate's avatar

I never understood it either. If it does good for you and you agree it will help why can’t they just take them?

Sunny2's avatar

I was a person who didn’t want to take a lot of pills when I was older, but here I am. If I don’t feel the difference a medication is supposed to give, I tell the doctor and stop taking it. It also helps to divide the pills (in your mind) into those you take for a condition (like heart medicine) and those you take for maintenance (like vitamins and cholesterol control.) It doesn’t seem so ridiculous that way. So far I’m normal or under control, physically, and I feel pretty good, considering. Not taking prescribed meds can be a denial of reality. “Oh no! I’m getting old!” Well, yeh-ah You just think you can beat it. It catches up with you regardless.

TheLadyEve's avatar

I think it’s that it’s not just taking a pill with some water, it’s taking a pill that reminds you of the fact that you need a pill. Much more pleasant to just sweep things under the rug. I’ve never gotten why people who don’t want to take a pill don’t tell their doctor that. If you aren’t going to take it, talk to them about it – it’s not like they’re holding a gun to your head with a prescription pad.

Supacase's avatar

I’m that person and I have no answer. I will take certain medications faithfully (well, I do actually forget once in a while) but I will let others go unfilled or only take half of them for no particular reason I can think of.

I know it is stupid. The pills I don’t take are things like iron. I’m anemic and I know taking them will improve how I feel, but I guess it isn’t so immediately noticeable that I connect the cause and effect? If I don’t take my anti-depressant, my body reminds me. Within hours I have a headache and within days I’m miserable. If I slack off of my iron, it could be weeks before I really notice and even then it isn’t so severe that I am forced to pay attention – in fact, I don’t usually even make the connection until the doctor reminds me at my next visit… which could be next year.

I will take a full course of antibiotics even though I’m feeling better ½ way through, though. I make no sense.

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