Talking to your doctor about dependence, addiction and treatment
You and your doctor have shared responsibility for your health, so it’s important to have a good relationship with them. If you can, try to see the same doctor. This will help them better understand your health needs and saves you having to explain the same things every time you see them.
Talking to your doctor can be difficult or intimidating – especially when it comes to drug use, dependence and addiction. You may be worried that your doctor will view you as an ‘addict’ or treat you badly because of your drug use. Some doctors specialise in treating dependence and addiction and should be easier to talk to about these things.
Being honest with your doctor is important. It means that they can do their job more effectively and you’ll receive better healthcare.
If a doctor does react negatively when you talk about drugs, or if you feel the doctor is focusing too much on your drug use, here are some things you can say:
- “I hear what you are saying and maybe we can talk about my drug use later. Right now, I am worried about__________.”
- “I understand that you are worried about my drug use but I am not ready to change that right now. I still care about my health and would like your help with __________.”
- “Can you explain to me how my drug use will impact __________? I do want to feel better, and I don’t want to change my use right now. Are there some other things that I can do now?”
- “If I can’t change my drug use right now, are there other things I can do to take care of my health? Maybe then we can talk about my drug use.”
If you don’t like your doctor or feel they are treating you unfairly, find a doctor you like and feel comfortable talking to. A local alcohol and drug service will know of doctors who specialise in treating dependence and addiction.
Before you visit your doctor, you should think about what you want from the appointment. Write down what you want to say and what you want to ask.
If you don’t understand what the doctor is saying, ask them to be clearer. Keep asking questions until you understand what they’re saying.