Discussing your history of substance misuse with a person you’re not close to is not always easy, even when you’re talking to a qualified physician. But whether you’re seeking treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) or some other health condition, it’s critical to be upfront about any past substance misuse.
Here are a few points to keep in mind when discussing your substance misuse with your doctor. Contact Dallas Drug Treatment Centers to learn about your options for discreet SUD treatment in North Texas.
Why Should I Tell My Doctor About My Drug Use?
If you have been consuming drugs or alcohol recently, you may want to bring this up proactively with your physician, even if they haven’t yet asked about it. Here are some reasons why you’ll want to be upfront about your substance use:1,2
- It helps them do their job.When it comes to discussing your health with your doctor, oversharing is always better than under-sharing. Having access to as much information as possible will help your physician make better judgment calls when it comes to your treatment.1,2
- It prevents them from prescribing something harmful.Some prescription medications like benzodiazepines and opioid painkillers are potentially habit-forming. Additionally, many widely prescribed medications can be worse for a patient when they are combined with alcohol or other widely misused substances. Knowing the types of substances you take frequently will allow your doctor to prescribe something safer.1,2
- It may give you access to lifesaving treatment.Many people with SUD or other problems resulting from drug use might be unaware that they are currently experiencing substance-related health issues. The doctor might miss out on the possible signs of these issues if they don’t have all the information they need. Disclosing your substance misuse can therefore be key to preventing further harm.1,2
What If I Only Use Drugs Infrequently?
Some substances can lead to serious harm even with one-time use, particularly if street drugs or very high dosages were involved. Though you’re probably safe if you haven’t misused substances in the past year or more, it’s always good to help your doctor rule out any potential issues that may have been caused by unusual drug or alcohol use.1,2
Can I Be Reported to The Police for Doing Drugs?
Doctors are bound by the Hippocratic Oath and their state medical board to keep their patients’ conditions a secret, including any substance use or psychiatric issues they may have. Patient confidentiality is also taken very seriously and is widely agreed to be important for building trust and for allowing the best possible care to be given.2,3,4,5
Breaking this oath is also generally considered to be unethical and can open up the doctor to legal action. This means that, even if the doctor personally disapproves of your drug use, something that is highly unlikely today, reporting you to the police is likely going to be much more trouble for them than it’s worth.2,3,4
Will They Tell Anyone Else?
Your doctor may tell other doctors or clinicians specifics of your case to help aid your treatment, if necessary. Additionally, if you’re seeking to have your condition covered by insurance, they may contact your insurance provider as well.1,2
I’m a Minor. Will My Doctor Tell My Parents?
The specific guidelines vary from state to state. Here in Texas, such confidentially is usually granted when substance misuse or a potential SUD is concerned. However, there are numerous exceptions. Regardless, be sure to ask your doctor to keep your drug use confidential if you are not ready to share it with your parents.1,2,5
Will Disclosing Drug Use Affect My Insurance?
Even though your information may be shared with insurers, generally speaking, disclosing previous drug use shouldn’t affect your premiums or your ability to get insurance. However, this is by no means universal. Everyone’s circumstance is different, so it may be important to discuss this issue with a qualified financial advisor or legal expert.1,2
What if They Discriminate Against Me for Drug Use?
While it is very unlikely to happen, unfortunately, you can’t always rule out the possibility that a doctor will discriminate against you or act unethically in response to them knowing about your drug use.1,2,4
Fortunately, you can always find other doctors who should be able to help. You may also want to place a complaint at your state medical board to prevent the doctor from doing the same thing to other patients. If you’re in Texas, you can place a complaint about possible ethics breaches by physicians or other medical professionals through the Texas Medical Board website.
Find Help for SUD in North Texas
If you’re in the North Texas area and feel that you need help with drug or alcohol problems, Dallas Drug Treatment Centers offers access to specialized SUD facilities and programs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Call +1(214) 453-5663 to discuss your options.
- The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. (2020, August 19). Should you tell your doctor about your drug use?.
- Hu, L. L., Sparenborg, S., & Tai, B. (2011). Privacy protection for patients with substance use problems. Substance abuse and rehabilitation, 2, 227–233. https://doi.org/10.2147/SAR.S27237
- Baker, R. (1999). Code of Ethics: Some History. Perspectives on the Professions, 19(1). Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions Illinois Institute of Technology
- Askitopoulou, H., & Vgontzas, A. N. (2018). The relevance of the Hippocratic Oath to the ethical and moral values of contemporary medicine. Part I: The Hippocratic Oath from antiquity to modern times. European Spine Journal, 27(7), 1481-1490.
- Texas Family Code §§ 32.003, 32.004. (1995).Consent to Medical, Dental, Psychological, and Surgical Treatment.