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Taking Medicine in Public

These instructions are for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) patients who want to help their children become more comfortable taking their medicines when they are away from home.

Some children and teens need to take medicine when they are away from home, when they are at school or out with their friends. They may prefer to keep their medicine use private. It can be challenging to talk about their health condition with friends and teachers. We understand that friends and social activities are important to children and teens, and skipping medicines might seem tempting, but it's crucial to take medicine as prescribed. Many children and teens find that if they explain their need for medicine to their friends it helps to prevent rumors from spreading. 

Here are some tips to become more comfortable taking medicine when you are away from home. We also offer some suggestions for responding when someone asks about your medicine.

How to take your medicine in public

  • Gather all the supplies you need for taking your medicine.

  • Find a private space, like a bathroom or the nurse's office at school, to take your medicine.

  • Use a small pill box or keychain pill case to make your medicine portable. 

  • Take your medicine during a meal or snack when you have a drink available.

How to talk about your medicine with others

These are some explanations you may use when someone asks about your medicine. Consider practicing a response with a parent or close friend to find the best response for you.

  • "I take medicine because I have _____ _, and it helps me stay healthy and keeps my body in good shape."

  • "The medicine I take is part of my treatment for . It's important for managing my condition and keeping me feeling my best."

  • "Taking medicine is a personal matter for me."

  • "I'm not sure, but my doctor told me to take it."

  • "I don't want to talk about it."

  • "My doctor recommended the medicine to help me feel better."

  • "My medicine helps stop my ______ and prevents flare-ups, pain, or feeling sick."

  • "Just like someone with asthma needs their inhaler, I need my medicine for my ______. It's not contagious, but taking my medicine helps me stay healthy and active.

It is usually best to be open and honest with your friends about your health and why you need to take medicine. No one should judge you for taking care of your health.

If you would like advice on dealing with embarrassment or teasing, a therapist or psychologist can help. Ask your healthcare provider to recommend someone.

It's important to follow your doctor's instructions and take your medicine as prescribed, even if you prefer to keep it private. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to talk to a trusted adult or healthcare provider.


Reviewed November 2023 by Kerry Spichiger, DNP, CRNP; Melissa A. Lerman, MD, PhD, MSCE, Dori Abel, MD

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