Starting a new medicine can be hard.

This information is part of the American Diabetes Association’s Living With Type 2 Diabetes Program. To sign up, visit

Even if you make lifestyle changes and healthy choices, are active, and lose weight, your body may need help. Diabetes is different for each person. You may need to take medicine, and this does not mean you did anything wrong. Medicine can help you feel better. Since type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, you may need additional medicine or insulin as time goes on.

What type of medicines help people with diabetes?

  • Diabetes oral medicines (pills): Some types of pills can help lower blood glucose. Different pills work on blood glucose in different ways. You may need to take more than one pill to manage diabetes.
  • Insulin: Insulin is injected with a syringe or an insulin pen into sites such as your belly, thigh, and buttocks. Some types of insulin work fast to lower blood glucose. Insulin that works very fast (short- or rapid-acting) is usually taken with meals. Other types of insulin last longer. They are called basal insulins, and you take them once or twice every day. These medicines help manage your blood glucose between meals and while you are sleeping. There is also a rapid-acting inhaled insulin on the market.
  • Other injected medicines: Besides insulin, there are some other diabetes medicines that are injected, sometimes every day and sometimes just once per week.

How to set up a medicine routine

Starting a new medicine and remembering to take it at the right time can be hard. To help, plan a "medicine routine."

A medicine routine can help you:

  • Take your medicine as part of your daily life.
  • Take your medicine the way your doctor says is best.
  • Make taking medicine "automatic" so you spend less time thinking about and planning when to take your medicine.

How can you set up a medicine routine?

  • Keep medicine next to a "trigger" (something you see every day) such as the coffee maker or your toothbrush. Then, when you use the "trigger," you will also take your medicine.
  • Take your medicine at the same time you do something else every day, such as eat breakfast.
  • Use a pill box to help you keep track of what you take, and if you've taken it.
  • Set an alarm on your watch or smartphone to remind you to take your medicine.
  • Write down when and where to take your medicine.

For your medicine routine, ask yourself:

  • What medicine and the medicine dose (how much do I take)?
  • Which days to take them? (For example, every day or once per week)
  • What time of day do I take the medicine?
  • What will remind me?
  • What supplies do I need? (such as pen needles or lancets)
  • How will I remember to get refills?