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Drugs and alternative medicine
Modern medicine has made many advances that help us live longer, healthier lives. Some of the most important advances include medications that treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other conditions. As the population ages, more people are using these drugs. Although drugs can be lifesaving, they can also have serious side effects. The risk of side effects increases with the number of drugs you use.
Many Americans also are using alternative medicine such as herbal supplements. These supplements may seem safe because they are "natural." But they can be harmful when used with some prescription drugs. And experts still don't know whether many of the supplements and other forms of alternative medicine work or are safe.
Educating yourself about these issues can help you make more informed choices. You should also discuss all health treatments with your doctor. She or he can tell you more about the research and help you avoid dangerous side effects.
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More information on Drugs and alternative medicine
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Generic Drugs: Questions and Answers - This fact sheet explains generic drugs and discusses how they differ from brand-name drugs.
Get Connected! Linking Older Adults With Medication, Alcohol and Mental Health Resources - This kit can help service providers identify, educate, and screen older adults for emotional and substance use problems. Components of the kit include: fact sheets, a video, consumer brochures, training guides and curricula, and a services resource guide.
Medicines and You: A Guide for Older Adults - This booklet provides a guide for older Americans on how to keep track of and safely use prescription and over-the-counter medications.
Mental Health Medications - This booklet is designed to help mental health patients and their families understand how and why medications can be used as part of the treatment of mental health problems.
NIDA InfoFacts: Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications - This fact sheet explains how some doctors under-prescribe pain medications for fear that many patients will develop an addiction to some, such as opiates.
Over-the-Counter Drugs - This fact sheet explains how to read the label on over-the-counter drugs and why it's important to do so.
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Content last updated August 12, 2010.
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