September 12, 2012

How to talk to your doctor about your addiction

By Terri Yablonsky Stat doctors need to know about your addiction history to give you the best treatment possible. Be honest with them. They are trained to focus on your health and wellness and will not judge you or be critical of your history.

“We tell our patients to tell every health care practitioner they see that they’re in recovery and their history of substance abuse,” says Michael Pantalon, an addiction expert and psychologist at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. You should either discuss it directly with your doctor, or give your main point person – your addiction specialist – permission to discuss it with your doctor.

“Say, ‘I’m in recovery. This is what I’ve used and this is how long I’ve been sober. I’m worried that many things may have been negatively affected by my addiction. Can I have a full workup?’” says Pantalon.

Testing will need to be done over time, not in just one visit, says Michelfelder. Be patient and establish a relationship with your physician so they can work on these issues with you.

“I’ve always appreciated it when a patient says I’m an addict in recovery and I do not want to be prescribed addictive medications such as narcotics,” says Michelfelder. “We have other options now. It’s really important for the addict in recovery to be diligent about their own health with their doctor. People need to advocate for themselves.”

Click here to read about the five health tests you need now.

Terri Yablonsky Stat has written about health, wellness, parenting and lifestyle issues for 25 years. She recently launched The Professional Hypochondriac, a health blog for women found at

Image courtesy of Suat Eman/

Comments are closed here.

Starbucks K-Cups