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Understanding Your Medication(s)

  • Try to learn the names of the medication(s) you take and why you are taking them.
  • Know what your medication looks like – the colour and shape.  
  • Know how much to take, how often and how long to take your medication(s).
  • Ask if there are any side effects to your medication(s) and what you should do if you experience them. 
  • Make sure you know what to do if you miss a dose.
  • Know if there are foods you should avoid while taking your medication(s) or special instructions for a medication (e.g., take at bedtime or with meals).

Storing Your Medication(s)

  • To avoid confusion, keep all of your prescription medications in their original container with the cap closed.
  • Be aware of special storage instructions (e.g., refrigerate, store in a dry, cool place away from sunlight), and keep them out of reach of children and pets by putting them on a shelf or in a cupboard. Lock up any narcotic pain medication.

Staying Organized

  • Use a medication record book to keep a list of all your medication(s) and record any allergies. 
  • Take your medication list with you every time you visit your care provider or pharmacist.
  • It is important to speak up if you think you are about to receive, or have received, the wrong medication from a pharmacy.


  • Be aware of the expiry date of your medicine.
  • Go through your medicine cabinet at least once a year.
  • Gather up your medicine that is old, no longer in the original container, has unclear labels and has changed in colour, smell or taste.
  • Safely dispose of medications through your local pharmacy.
  • Never throw medication in the garbage or flush down the toilet.

Ask your pharmacist about blister packs! 


This information is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health needs. Ask your own doctor or professional health care providers of any specific medical questions you may have.




Additional Resources:

INFOline: 1-866-255-6701

Government of Canada:
Using Medications Safely

Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI): Using Your Medications Safely
Phone: 310-2222 (no area code required)