Teens and Adherence to Medications/Treatments

“I’m going to the mall with my friends, see you later.” “What about your treatment?” “I’ll do it later.” “No, you have to do it before you go.” “But everyone’s meeting now! I don’t want to be late!”

“Take your med’s!”

“Not now…I’ll do it later”

“No, you need to do it now.”

Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. And here’s the good news: you live in a perfectly normal household.

The teen years are a challenge for you the teen, as well as for your parents. This would be true even if you didn’t have CF. You are starting to assert yourself and test your independence, and this may be seen as rebellion by many parents. As a teen, you may want to take more control over your treatments, and want them to be a lower priority than your other activities – parties, sports, schoolwork or time with your friends. This is totally normal to you the teen, but may be completely frustrating to your parents.

So, how do you find a common ground so that both you and your parents get what you want?

First of all, having CF stinks. We all know that, and wish no one had it, but unfortunately that cannot change. And with CF comes all sorts of things that need to be done in the day. Treatments, medications, a high calorie diet and exercise are just a few of the things your doctor wants you to adhere to.

Teens often feel awkward and insecure, and may lose confidence in their abilities and skills. You probably feel frustrated because of all the drugs you need to take and the time you spend having to do the treatments. You may even want to pretend you are healthy when you are out with your friends. Because of this, you may not eat healthy foods, not take your enzymes, and some of you may even start smoking. Rebellion is a perfectly normal part of going through puberty. Unfortunately, teenagers with CF whose behaviors are rebellious can potentially lead to serious problems with their health.

Talk with your parents about when it is possible to be flexible on treatment times. If you try to figure out strategies together, then they may have an easier time respecting your increasing independence. But for this to succeed, you need to be responsible too. Your parents can be a tremendous help to you by allowing you the freedom to make decisions. Even if you fall down and get hurt, you can learn from your mistakes. However, parents do have the right to - and should - step in if you are neglecting your health to a point where it worsens.

All of the things you need to do every day to stay healthy may not seem like a huge list to your doctor, but to you it may feel like having to climb Half Dome in Yosemite. All of the things that we, your CF Care team, ask you to do are things that will help you live and maintain a healthy life with a chronic lung disease (CF).