Estimated duration: 60 min. without dissemination

*OTC – Over the counter

Aims of this module: to learn what OTC medicine is; to discover the phenomenon of polypharmacy; to look for  natural alternatives of supplements or painkillers; to reflect on own health and medical practices; to promote healthy choices;  to discussion and reflect; to boost creativity and group work


„Risky pills”

Duration: 10 min.

Group size: max. 25 people

Materials: 5 non-transparent sacs, 255 red chips, 195 green chips, 5 golden chips (you can cut it out from cardboard), a flip chart to keep the score, markers

The Facilitator divides the group into 5 smaller ones (with 5 people max.). Each team gets 1 sac filled out with 15 green, 15 red and 1 golden chip.  The facilitator explains what follows:

The game will be played in 3 rounds.

Round 1:

Each member of the team is allowed to draw with their eyes closed from 1 to 5 chips at once. It’s up to them how many they want to draw, but they need to remember what number they decided on. The colors of the chip are equivalent to points – for every green chip the team gets 3 points, for golden 50 points, but for red -3 points. The purpose of the game is to collect the most points. The round finishes when every person drew their chips. Then the team counts their points, which are written down on the flip chart by the facilitator. The group doesn’t put back to the sac  already drawn chips.

Round 2:

To each team’s sac The facilitator  adds 13 green and 17 red chips. Again, the team needs to decide if they want to risk taking more chips or play safe taking less, but at the same time, the person who took 2 or more in the previous round can’t take less – the minimum is the number they took in the 1st round. The round finishes when every person drew their chips. Then the team counts their points, which are written down on the flip chart by The facilitator. The group doesn’t put back to the sac already drawn chips.

Round 3:

To each team’s sac The facilitator adds 11 green and 19 red chips. In this round every participant must draw 5 chips.  The round finishes when every person drew their chips. Then the team counts their points, which are written down on the flip chart by The facilitator.

The facilitator calculate the results and announce the winner team.

Next, the follow up questions are being asked:

  • How did you feel in this activity?
  • What strategy did you choose? Playing safe (drawing less chips) or taking a risk?
  • Are you happy with the result?
  • If you played again, what would you change?
  • How would you associate this game with the tittle of our workshop?
  • What resemblance do you see in green/red/golden chips and pills or supplements?
  • How the course of the game resemblance the life situation of taking medicine?

Hints for The Facilitator:

  • Prepare the chips and the sacs beforehand. Sacs don’t have to be large, but they need to be non-transparent, so the participants can’t see through them. You can print the colorful chips on the cardboard and cut them out. Make sure they are the same size.
  • Start every round when all the groups are ready.
  • Underline that in this game it is very important to play fair and not to pick while drawing chips.
  • The chips represent the pills and dietary supplements which are very popular and available widely as OTC medicine. Their colors and points show that we can have good, high quality and based on natural substances products as well as we can have harmful ones. The intensity of drawing them in each round stand for:
  • Round 1 – every person have influence over how many „pills” they want/need.
  • Round 2 – the more you take the more you’ll have to take in the future – the dose stays the same or gets bigger, because „the body/the mind” needs more
  • Round 3 – the last phase where, like sometimes in life, you don’t have the choice anymore – you just need to fulfill the organism’s needs by „applying” the maximum amount, which not always end well.

But in life, when you buy OTC medicine, you have influence and choice what you buy and how often you take it, so it’s really important that you decide well, taking under consideration composition, ingredients and potential consequences of what impact it may have on you.


„Mix and Match = Polypharmacy”

Duration: around 20 min.

Group size: around 30 people

Materials: flip chart, markers, Infographic 1

The Facilitator  starts by asking participants questions about their experiences and daily practices connected with OTC medicine

  • Do you often buy medical products/supplements that are not prescribed by a doctor?
  • Why do you buy them?
  • Have you ever bought them because of the advertisement or other person’s recommendation?
  • What kind of products do you buy the most often?
  • How many and what kind of them do you take daily?
  • Do you ever consult the supplements/vitamins/pain killers or other OTC products with a doctor or pharmacist?
  • Is there any potential danger you can see in taking various medicines/medical products that you use without consult?

After the short discussion, the facilitator presents to the participants short lecture of polypharmacy, as a result of taking daily various medicine (prescribed and OTC) from Infographic 1.

To close the activity, the facilitator explains that in the Evaluation part, the participants will actively

create ways of stopping polypharmacy.

Hints for The Facilitator:

  • The participants should feel free and comfortable to share their stories, so create a peaceful and trustful atmosphere.
  • You should prepare information about polypharmacy beforehand – on the flip chart or digital presentation. While doing so, get familiar with the term and some more articles about polypharmacy:

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2019/0701/p32.html; https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/polypharmacy; https://www.freedomcareny.com/posts/what-is-polypharmacy



Duration: 30 min.

Group size: Any

Materials: smartphone, social media account

As a continuation of the previous activity, but at the same time the summary of the whole module, the Facilitator asks each participant to reflect on one advice that they would give themselves and other people, that regards limiting of taking dietary supplements, pain killers and in general medical products that are not necessary or prescribed.The advice should sound like this: „INSTEAD of  taking  vitamin D in pills,  get some SUN”, or „Headache? drink water, breathe deeply and smell lavender INSTEAD of taking another aspirin”. Important is, that the participants check some alternatives of traditional vitamines, supplements or painkillers before they create „the INSTEAD advice”. After they came up with their ideas, the facilitator asks everybody to record it as a very short selfie- video, which they will post on their social media stories (instagram, facebook, tie tok) with #INSTEAD #startnowplus.


Activity „Let’s get clean”

Duration: max. 60 min.

Group size: none/individual task

Materials: medicine cabinet at your home

The Facilitator invites participants to join, at any time suitable for them, a challenge of cleaning their home medicine cabinets. Cleaning means throwing out expired, or no longer needed medicine – pills, syrups, supplements, bandages, creams etc. as well as organizing those which still can be used – putting them into the smaller boxes with correct labels, for example: cold, digestion, vitamins etc. The facilitator should remind people, that expired/no longer needed medicine can be left in a bag in a local pharmacy, but can’t be thrown in a regular trash can. This activity can be helpful in pointing out how much unnecessary medicine most of us buy and maybe it will be a wake up call to limit this practice and instead look for more natural solutions, like healthy diet, sport and social interactions.

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