Causes of Medication Non Adherence

Causes of Medication Non Adherence

-Reasons For Non Compliance in Patients-


1 | We Forget

Forgetfulness is one of the main causes of medication non adherence. In many cases we leave for work & forget to take our medication before leaving.

If you do this often it can be a good idea to keep extra doses in your purse or vehicle. Consider what medication you take as you will want to keep controlled medications secure!



2 | We Take Too Many

Maybe you have to take them through out the day, maybe the supplements have to be four hours after medications, your Synthroid can’t be mixed with other medications, etc.

It is hard enough to take a medication once a day, let alone 2, 3, or 4 times a day!

Having a complicated medication regimen is another one of the common causes of medication adherence.

Sometimes setting an alarm can help with this, or setting up pills trays.

There are some pharmacies who are willing to bubble pack medications which can make multiple doses more convenient.

7 Day Pill Organizer


3 | We’re Scared to Take It

This is another one of the common causes of medication non adherence, especially when we’re prescribed a new medication.

You can learn more about the drug to see if that will give you piece of mind.

Typically the less we know, the more anxious we are.



4 | Side Effects

Some medications have really annoying side effects.

Consider if you’re willing to live with the side effect or not.

Give the medication 2-3 weeks, at the very least, to see if the side effect dissipates. 

(unless it’s life threatening)

If you’ve given the medication a fair trial and you’re not willing to live with the side effect, work with your doctor to try something else.

Remember that if you take the medication intermittently, you are MORE likely to have side effects.



5 | Hopelessness

A lack of motivation is one of the causes of medication non adherence.

When we’re feeling down it can feel like “what’s the point?” That’s a hard one to overcome.

You could try an accountability partner, phone reminders, making the medications more convenient to take, or asking a friend for support when you know you need it.

You can try some quick mood boosters and see if that helps you overcome the down mood & get back on track. ↓

Easy Mood Boosters



6 | Our Symptoms Go Away

Sometimes once we feel better we don’t see the need to take the medication anymore. The consequences of medication non-adherence are worth avoiding!

Sometimes there are side effects of stopping medications abruptly, so it’s worth checking into the best way to discontinue a medication.

Keep in mind that some medications take weeks to work again so it’s worth taking them everyday so that you don’t have to build the drug back up in your system once symptoms DO return. 



7 | It’s Inconvenient

Taking oral medications are one thing, but if you’re prescribed an injection, or intranasal medication, especially one that must be completed in the doctor’s office, that’s annoying!

You have to drive somewhere, check in, wait in the waiting room, converse with someone, it’s a whole process that quickly gets old.

Even giving injections at home is a lot and can be too much for some of us.

You could ask family to help you. Sometimes transportation is a barrier for getting to appointments; in that case ask your insurance what ride services they offer or see what transportation is available in your community.

You may even qualify for a helper to come to your home and help you.



8 | Cost

Some of the prices are just outrageous. Even using GoodRx, it can be absurd.

It doesn’t help that each pharmacy has a different contract with drug companies, and they typically change them yearly.

It’s impossible to predict some of the changes that happen with your coverage.

Cost is unfortunately one of the causes of medication non-adherence.

Some doctors are able to sample certain drugs (usually newer ones).  



9 | Lack of Insight

It’s not uncommon for people to think they just don’t need a medication.

This is definitely one of the more frustrating causes of medication non adherence.

Maybe we don’t see how bad our condition really is.

There are some that simply don’t believe they have the diagnosis they’ve been given, so why take the medication?

Court orders sometimes attempt to enforce medication adherence, but it isn’t easy to do.

Unfortunately it’s usually our natural consequences of the disease that allow us to see that maybe the medications would help. 

Insight doesn’t happen overnight.

So, it can be brutal if you’re a family member or loved one sitting on the sidelines watching.

When someone becomes a danger to themselves or others, they may be appropriate for a hospitalization (against their will).



10 | Substance Abuse

This is one of the most difficult causes of medication non adherence to tackle.

Abusing substances can mask symptoms, make symptoms worse, make us sleep for days, make us stay awake for days, etc.

When we’re attempting to self medicate or using drugs recreationally, we’re less likely to adhere to a medication regimen.

Our lives are less stable, our routine is disrupted, & our homeostasis is sacrificed.

It’s nearly impossible to make progress when substance abuse is a factor.

It’s worth jumping off the hamster wheel of addiction to gain an understanding of your baseline.


Solving Causes of Medication Non Adherence

If logging your medications helps you, or you want to give it a try ↓

Logging when you take medication can help you better understand what helps you stick to a medication regimen & help you to see what your specific causes of medication non adherence are.

Medication Non Adherence Log

Medication non adherence


Free Medication Log PDF

printable PDF


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