What’s inside your medicine cabinet? The key to understanding your medications

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April 28, 2022

African American Mental Health and Wellness (AMEN) team is collaborating with KAZI FM 88.7 in producing a radio series to highlight the importance of addressing mental health and physical wellness in the African American community. The monthly series will feature AMEN team members from the School of Nursing, leaders from Mt. Zion Baptist and Rehoboth Baptist churches, and community organizations who provide mental health resources and support in Travis County. 

What’s inside your medicine cabinet? The key to understanding your medications

April 27, 2022 Podcast:

Audio file

Co-moderators Shannon W. Jones and Jacki Hecht interviewed Dr. Ashley Garling, a clinically experienced pharmacy professor at the UT Austin School of Pharmacy. Dr. Garling has expertise in healthcare communications, patient engagement, and advanced patient-centric care. In her leadership role, Dr. Garling strives to encourage social activation, diverse and inclusive education.

Studies have shown that older African American adults are less likely to take medication as prescribed when compared with their white counterparts. Approximately 75% of adults over the age of 50 are prescribed an average of 4.5 medications daily. Depending on the individuals’ state of health, this average can be up to 11 different medications every month. Dr. Garling shares that the most common conditions that require medications for seniors and adults under age 65 are cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Garling adds that often, people have a limited understanding of their prescription medications, how they work, and what the side effects may be. Pharmacists can help their clients better understand their medications by establishing effective communication. Dr. Garling urges consumers to ask questions of their doctor, for example, if there is a generic form available for the “name-brand” medications being prescribed. Having written information, in addition to verbal explanations can be helpful for clients to better understand their medications.

The high cost of medications can be a large concern for many individuals, especially if they are taking multiple medications. Sometimes people are prescribed medications by multiple specialists, and don’t have a primary provider who manages them all. Therefore, Dr. Garling suggests going to your primary care doctor with an updated list of all current medications to see if any medications can be modified or discontinued. Community Care, Project Access, Central Health, and People’s Community Clinic have medication assistance programs and may offer some prescription medications at a more affordable cost. Side effects of medications can often get in the way of people taking them as prescribed, making it important for clients to collaborate with their health care providers and pharmacists to figure out what works best for them.

Furthermore, the opioid epidemic has raised concerns about medication dependency. Consumers can play a role in reducing the risk of dependence by asking their health care provider important questions regarding the effects of the medication. For people interested in having a career in pharmacy, Dr. Garling suggests researching online for pre-pharmacy associations that can provide valuable information, resources, and support.


  • Project Access provides access to healthcare services for low-income and uninsured people in Travis County.
  • Medical Access Program (MAP) provided by Central Health covers medical care for qualifying Travis County residents.
  • WellRx for discount medications.

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Visit AMEN Podcast Resources.