How to Handle Medication Lapses in the Workplace

July 27, 2023 Ashley Miller

Medication lapses at work can be detrimental to people with mental health issues. I have experienced a myriad of problems that came from a lapse in medication. These problems have included withdrawal symptoms, a resurgence of symptoms, the increased risk of relapse, and the risk of self-medication. There are many reasons why a person may have a lapse in medication in the workplace, but one that has really affected my mental health is insurance refusing to cover my medication.

Lapse of Medication at Work Can Be Caused by Barriers to Insurance

I have learned that even with insurance, there are still barriers to healthcare. It's important that your workplace provide good insurance. There have been instances in my past where I ran into problems with insurance covering a certain mental health medication, and because I didn't have the money to pay for it out of pocket, I lapsed on my medication for long periods of time.

Recently, my insurance rejected covering a medication. Thankfully, my doctor suggested a low-cost alternative that worked for me. The truth is that co-pays can still be too expensive for some people, with or without insurance. There is a vicious cycle that I have been wrapped up in, which is living at a low socioeconomic status, not being able to afford medication, going without medication, not being able to hold a job, and because of this cycle, continuing to live in poverty.

Symptoms of a Lapse in Medication in the Workplace

When you experience a lapse in medication, you can go through moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms. Regardless of whether this is the fault of insurance or not, the symptoms can be agonizing. I have experienced nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, and sadness. This has caused me to take time off from work, an inability to focus while working, and a loss of work productivity

Some people have a depression relapse or bipolar symptoms when they stop taking their medication for a few days, and some people look to substances to self-medicate these symptoms. This may make navigating the workplace even more difficult. Fortunately, my medication lapses have been very rare, and when they happen, they are for short periods of time. Insurance has been an unfortunate barrier for me, but I am learning how to manage short periods of withdrawal. 

Solutions for Medication Withdrawal at Work

It has been critical for me to take sick time when I have a lapse in medication so that I can focus on feeling better. This is not always the most feasible solution for every person. It has been important for me to notify my doctor when this happens, so I can seek appropriate medical advice. It has also been critical to call the pharmacy at least one week before I am out of medication to prevent these lapses from happening.

Once it happens, it's important to continue to manage the withdrawal symptoms. First, I treat my mental health just like any other health problem, so I have no problem requesting a sick day. On top of this, I hydrate frequently, eat nourishing meals, and take breaks throughout the workday.

It's important to investigate the benefits of your insurance before accepting a new job. Some insurances offer lower co-pays and more insurance coverage for mental health medication. There are a lot of harms that come with medication lapses, and it will benefit you and your company to try and prevent these lapses.

APA Reference
Miller, A. (2023, July 27). How to Handle Medication Lapses in the Workplace, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 25 from

Author: Ashley Miller

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