Addiction Helpline and Resource Center

Talking to Your Doctor About a History of Drug Abuse

Talking about addiction and a history of drug abuse can be nerve-wrecking, particularly when you must explain this information to a new physician. It can be intimidating to think about how he or she will take it and you may have concerns about how your doctor will react or treat you in the future.

However, the benefits of having such a discussion with your doctor greatly surpass any possible feelings of discomfort or fear of shame. In one of its articles, the National Institute on Drug Abuse discusses the topic of family practice when dealing with drug abuse. In this discussion we find recommendations aimed to the physicians regarding nonjudgmental and respectful ways of finding out the addiction past of the patient.

Since the issue might be brought to light sooner or later, you might want to take the first step and give your physician the full history of your addiction experiences. Why is this important and how can you do it?

How is a History of Drug Abuse Useful?

One of the biggest benefits of your doctor knowing about your past drug use is the prevention of relapses or the development of new addictions or drug use disorders. For example, the American College of Clinical Pharmacology through their Pharmacotherapy Self-Assessment Program in the topic of pain management, states that addiction to opioids is more likely for those with an addiction past, making a history of drug abuse the strongest, high-risk predictor for an opioid addiction.

Such information is useful because your doctor will take such a risk into consideration when writing a prescription for you. The doctor might conclude that the risks outweigh the benefits of prescribing opioid-based medications and instead find an alternative for pain management that does not involve the use of habit-forming medication.

A 2002 article posted in the US National Library of Medicine agrees with the idea of limiting the use of opioids when addiction becomes a real threat. This article discusses the different strategies that can be used with a patient with a history of drug abuse while successfully providing adequate pain control for patients with varying circumstances.

Discussing the family history of addiction is also an important point to remember. Even when a patient does not have a personal history of drug abuse, it is still important to talk about close relatives who have battled addiction. The Mayo Clinic website lists family history as one of the risk factors of addiction, stating that genetic predisposition makes a person prone to develop dependence and drug abuse.

And of course, a good physician who remains empathetic will take the information you disclose about your past with drugs as an opportunity to help you continue with your recovery and offer practical help to cope with cravings and urges while giving effective medical assistance.

Talking About Addiction In a Relaxed Setting

Although it is normal to feel nervous or even anxious when thinking about discussing your problem with drugs, you need to have in mind that accepting that you had a problem and now are trying to recover is in itself a great accomplishment.

Remember also that addiction is often categorized as a chronic disease, and that your physician is there not only to prescribe medications, but also to help you find the best strategy to deal with whatever health issue that you may have, including drug addiction.

Instead of thinking that asking for addiction help will make you look weak or will reveal a personality flaw, take it as an opportunity to strengthen your determination and improve yourself as a person at the same time. The main responsibility of a physician is to assist you in recovering your well-being. So instead of seeing her as a judge, consider your doctor as someone who will be working with you toward reaching your goal of long-lasting recovery.

Another important thing to remember is that this conversation is not a confession, but rather a discussion of a health problem you had in the past that could affect future treatments or medical conditions. This can be likened to you telling your doctor about your allergies and why certain medications can have an adverse reaction in your body.

Considering Addiction Rehab for a Recurring Problem of Drug Abuse

There will be times, however, when you will be discussing a present problem of drug addiction with your doctor. In these instances, the physician will help you asses the seriousness of the situation and how often this has been repeated in the past. He might even suggest an inpatient program in a treatment center for a more comprehensive strategy to fight addiction.

But this idea might leave you with doubts and questioning what to expect. All you have to do is call our toll-free substance abuse helpline and one of our counselors will be glad to answer your questions and explain what the tools available are for you or your loved one. You can call at any time of the day or night and we can tell you how to benefit from a national network of rehab facilities while using health insurance coverage for treatment. Today is a good day to call.

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