When you start taking GLP-1s, it might be pretty easy to take them regularly. After all, motivation is often highest when you start something new to lose weight. But as your journey continues, it may be difficult to stay motivated.
There are a few main reasons people stop taking GLP-1s. Plateauing weight, GI side effects, cost and access to medications are all reasons people stop. Here are some strategies to deal with those barriers and stick with your medication.
Understand how the drugs work.
It’s gratifying to initially lose weight quickly. However, most people reach a weight plateau at some point. When you stop losing weight, it might be tempting to stop taking your medication. But for most people, continuing GLP-1s is necessary to maintain your new lower weight. If you have a lapse in taking your medication, talk to your care provider. They may suggest that you start over with your starting dose to minimize side effects instead of returning to your previous dose.
Address side effects.
If you’re experiencing unpleasant or disruptive side effects, talk to your doctor before simply stopping the medication. Your doctor might change your medication dosage, or switch you to a different GLP-1. They may also provide strategies to manage or minimize side effects.
Refill prescriptions on time.
You don’t want to stop taking your GLP-1s simply because you ran out of your medication. Set reminders or use pharmacy services that offer automatic refills to avoid running out. If drug shortages are making it hard to stay on your GLP-1, talk to your doctor. They may adjust your dosage, or offer other solutions to deal with a drug shortage.
Put the cost in context.
Paying for these drugs is another barrier that causes some people to stop taking GLP-1s. But you might reconsider going off GLP-1s when you think of your overall healthcare costs. Your weight loss may prevent or slow the progression of chronic diseases, which come with a steep healthcare cost.
Look for ways to save.
There are also strategies you can take to make sure you’re getting the most out of your health care coverage. Check each year at open enrollment to make sure your insurance plan covers your GLP-1 prescription. Your doctor may also know if there are coupons available for this medication. You can check the medication manufacturer’s website for discount programs and financial aid. If possible, shop around to find a plan that covers your medication.
Get other behavioral support.
GLP-1s are one tool for weight loss. But they don’t stand alone. For the greatest success in losing weight and maintaining weight loss, you should also address other factors that affect your weight—food choice, physical activity, quality sleep and mental health. Support is available in each of these areas. Seek out the support you need to be successful in making other healthy behavior changes.
Remember, sticking with GLP-1s for the long-term may take work. But if you are aware of the barriers, you can seek out solutions to help you be successful.