What to Know About College Kids and Medications

Monday August 16, 2021

The transition to campus life can often feel abrupt. Beyond adjusting to the rigors of a college curriculum, students must quickly develop the self-management skills needed to thrive on their own. One such skill that should be prioritized is staying on track with prescribed medications.

Accounting for up to 50% of treatment failures, around 125,000 deaths and up to 25% of hospitalizations each year in the United States, medication non-adherence can pose serious health risks.

In fact, a study which observed the experiences of students with ADHD found that adherence drops to just 53% when teens embark on their college careers. Adding to this, confidentiality rules often come into play for parents of young adults.

As students leave home for campus, parents can gain greater peace of mind by ensuring their student is prepared to take on more responsibility for their health and wellness. To help families plan for this new stage, Susan Peppers, RPh and vice president of Express Scripts Pharmacy, is offering these tips:

  • Phasing out: Prior to leaving for campus, phase out resources and parental reminders that won’t be readily available once classes begin. Your pharmacist can recommend medication adherence tools — digital or otherwise — that work best for young adults and students.
  • Making the transition: Help your student develop a reliable transition plan and schedule, keeping in mind daily class schedules, social activities, changes in routine and school breaks.
  • Planning ahead: Make sure your student knows how and where to get needed prescription refills. Locate the closest pharmacy or set up automatic refills that get delivered to your student’s campus address using a service such as Express Scripts Pharmacy.
  • Alcohol and medication: Alcohol usage is often prevalent on college campuses, even among students who are underage. Make sure your child is aware of the potential adverse interaction alcohol can have with their prescription drugs, as well as other health and safety risks associated with drinking.
  • Getting school savvy: Well before the semester starts, work with your student to learn more about the college or university’s health service resources. Be sure they know how to schedule an appointment if they are sick, need mental health services such as therapy, or are otherwise in need of prompt care.
  • Convenient care anywhere, anytime: Make sure your child knows where to call if they have questions about their medications; choose a pharmacy that has 24/7 direct access to a pharmacist, just in case. Should your child need to see a doctor when the school’s health facilities are not open, online physicians are available 24/7 through telehealth services such as MDLIVE. Their physicians can provide chronic care management and write temporary prescription renewals should your child run out of medication, all from the convenience of your child’s dorm room.

For more medication adherence resources and information, visit www.esrx.com/AskYourPharmacist.

As your student enters this exciting new phase of life, take steps to ensure they have everything they need to stay happy and healthy. This should include making a plan that will allow them to stay on top of their prescription drug regimen.


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