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8 Common Barriers to Taking Insulin

Content provided by: Better Medicine from Healthgrades

Insulin can’t cure diabetes. But it can help you stay healthy longer. You may not be using insulin for many reasons. Below are some common barriers to taking it and some ideas for getting past them.

1. My medication costs too much. Medications can be expensive. But uncontrolled diabetes may end up costing much more in time lost from your life and in the need for ongoing medical care. It you have trouble paying for medications, don’t stop taking them or use less than prescribed. Instead, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Then explore these options:

  • Ask your healthcare provider whether you can get the same medication at a lower cost. This may mean taking a generic drug instead of a brand name, or taking a similar drug that has better coverage on your insurance plan.
  • Compare prices at different pharmacies. Also, look into mail order pharmacies, which may give you a discount on a 3-month supply of medication.
  • Ask about Patient Assistance Programs. These are offered by drug companies to help patients who can’t afford their medications. To learn more, go to
  • If you qualify for Medicare, you may be able to get government assistance to help pay for your medications. For more information on Medicare prescription drug plans, go to You can also ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider for help with this information.

2. Insulin makes my blood sugar go too low. Talk with your healthcare provider about balancing insulin with meals to keep your blood sugar from going too low.

3. My healthcare provider keeps changing my dosage. Each person is unique. It may take some time to find the right dosage and type of insulin for you. If one type doesn’t work well, another might work better. Talk to your healthcare provider to learn more about why your prescription has changed.

4. Checking my blood sugar is too complicated. The first step in managing diabetes is learning to check the level of sugar in your blood. At first it may seem overwhelming, but it isn’t hard to do. Your diabetes team will show you how to use a blood glucose meter and record your readings. Monitoring helps ensure that your blood sugar stays in a healthy range as much as possible

5. I don’t like giving myself shots. Most people don’t like injections. But giving yourself insulin isn’t as hard as you think. A diabetes educator or other health professional will help you practice until you feel comfortable. For many people, insulin shots simply become part of everyday life. The needles used to inject insulin are very small. If you have trouble getting used to injections, tell your healthcare provider. There may be another way to deliver insulin that will work better for you.

6. I’m embarrassed to give myself injections in public. Most injection devices can be used quickly and discreetly in public. You can also choose more private locations, such as a restroom or your parked car.

7. Taking insulin made me gain weight. Insulin can cause weight gain. But sticking to your eating plan and getting enough daily activity can help.

8. I just don’t feel like taking insulin. Checking your blood sugar and taking insulin every day require some big changes in your life. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed or depressed at times. But the effects of not using insulin are far worse. Keeping your blood sugar under control will help you feel better and have fewer complications over time.

9. I feel better, so I stopped using insulin. If you feel fine, that means your medication is working. Keep in mind that diabetes is a lifelong condition. Without treatment, it can cause serious health problems and even death. Eating healthy foods, staying active, and using insulin as directed can help prevent complications and keep you feeling well.

Medical Reviewer: Lynch, Shalini, PharmD Last Annual Review Date: 2011-01-12 Copyright: © 2000-2012 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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