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Questions to Ask and Answer About Addiction

A doctor's questions are just as critical on the way to recovery

By Second Opinion

The following is a list of questions for discussion with your doctor about addiction from Second Opinion.

Asking your doctor the right questions about a condition is always important. But in the case of addiction, answering the doctor's questions may be even more important. 

Doctors diagnose substance abuse and addiction by considering a person's behavior, and how that behavior is being affected by the substances the person is using. Therefore, the doctor needs complete and honest answers to questions about your (or the suspected abuser's) behavior.

If you (or a loved one) is abusing a drug or in danger of becoming addicted, you might ask yourself, or have the doctor ask you:

  • During the past year, how often did you fail to meet responsibilities (educational, professional or social) because you were too busy trying to get the substance or were under its influence?
  • During the past year, how often did you act recklessly or put yourself or others in danger while under the substance's influence?
  • During the past year, have you had legal problems that were caused by your pursuit of or use of the substance?
  • During the past year, did you continue to use the substance even though you felt that using it was causing you harm?
  • During the past year, how often did you try but fail to stop using it?
  • During the past year, did you try to stop using it then felt withdrawal symptoms (physical or psychological)?
  • During the past year, how often did you use more of it, or use it more frequently, than you planned?
  • During the past year, how often did you need to use more of it than you had previously to feel its effects?
  • During the past year, how often have you ignored friends, hobbies, work, school or other activities because you were looking for or using it?

On the other hand, if you (or a loved one) are considering entering a treatment program (especially a residential program), these are some questions to ask:

  • What kind of treatments do you use and how do they work?
  • Do you have a credentialed psychiatrist on your treatment staff?
  • Do you provide individual psychotherapy and/or counseling?
  • Do you treat anxiety, mood disorders and other psychological problems?
  • Do you approve of and give medications?
  • Are there studies that support the treatments that you use in your program?
  • How do you monitor the quality/success of your program?
  • How do you judge if the patient is getting better? What do you do if there are no signs of progress?
  • Is the family involved in the treatment process? How?
  • How will family members be prepared when the patient returns home?
  • How do you test patients for substance abuse? Do you do urine tests?
  • What continuing care options are available? How long do they continue?
  • Do you try to connect patients to mutual help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous?
  • Who pays for the treatment? How?

This article reprinted with permission from Second Opinion, a public television health program hosted by Dr. Peter Salgo and produced by WXXI (Rochester, N.Y.),  West 175 and the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Second Opinion
By Second Opinion
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