The Importance of Being Honest About Substance Use With Your Doctor

Lying about your substance use might come naturally to you. After all, no one likes being judged for their actions, and substance use is usually more judged than other activities. However, being honest about your substance use with a friend and being honest about substance use with your doctor are two completely different things. Your friends are not going to play a huge role in selecting the best substance abuse treatment programs, that is the doctor’s job. Furthermore, by lying to your doctor, you are putting both yourself and your recovery at risk. Even if you believe that being dishonest about your substance use is going to help you in some manner, the truth is that it will always hinder you instead. In this article, we are going to show you exactly why you may want to be as honest as possible when talking to your doctor.

Why is it so important that you are being honest about substance use with your doctor

Even though being dishonest to a medical professional is not something that you should do, it is also quite common. Studies show that around 80% of patients lie to their doctors to avoid being lectured, stigmatized, or judged. More shockingly, around 75% of patients also say that they did not even want to know that their actions are harmful to them, while about 60% of the patients said that they were simply embarrassed talking about their substance use. Some of these patients even enrolled in one of the long term drug rehab Pennsylvania programs under false pretenses. As you might imagine, this can be quite a problem due to a variety of factors, including:

  • Your information might affect the treatment
  • Drug interactions might be harmful
  • There’s a chance that you may be at risk for certain conditions
  • Your doctor might be able to help you
person being honest about substance use with your doctor
Being honest with your doctor is always the best idea.

By being dishonest, you are actually lowering your chances of making a full recovery in the shortest amount of time. Here’s how:

Your information might affect the treatment

Even though we might look at doctors as some omnipotent beings when it comes to diagnosis and treatment, the fact is that they are human just like the rest of us. Therefore, they operate under the same circumstances as everyone else. By providing your doctor with false information, or willingly choosing to omit information, you are actually compromising your treatment. For example, let’s say that you abuse several drugs but only admit to using cocaine. In that case, your doctor might send you to a cocaine addiction treatment center where you will get a treatment program based on your information. Once you start the treatment, however, it will become apparent that your issues are quite different than what the doctor initially thought.

Now, you can try to “power through” the treatment program and get additional treatment elsewhere, but this can be both extremely expensive and inefficient. It would be much better if you simply enrolled in an adequate treatment program from the get-go.

Drug interactions might be harmful

If you deliberately hide information about some of the drugs you are using, your doctor will not be able to predict any specific interactions. For example, let’s say that you have a benzodiazepine use problem but you are also using marijuana on a recreational basis. Marijuana has the potential to interfere with other drugs that may be used in your treatment, such as antidepressants, NSAIDs, and blood thinners. Most benzodiazepine rehab centers will provide you with a treatment based on the doctor’s orders, which is why being honest about substance use with your doctor is critical. Before you start being dishonest, you may want to think that there are good reasons why your doctor needs to know about your substance use.

Take alcohol, for example. Alcohol has a strong interaction with pretty much any drug out there. By deliberately omitting either your alcohol use or drug use, you are putting yourself at great risk.

There’s a chance that you may be at risk for certain conditions

Speaking of risk, substance use has the potential to significantly change your risk profile. The interaction between substances and health risk factors is incredibly complex, in fact. A few examples include cocaine, which increases the risk of heart failure, and any intravenous drug that you may use will considerably increase your risk of infections. This is why most heroin rehab Pennsylvania centers are extremely careful about cleanliness and proper hygiene. Alcohol, as you might already know, brings a considerable risk of liver disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers.

several playing cards
Being dishonest with your doctor is basically the same as gambling.

Basically, the less your doctor knows about the substances you’re using, the more risk you are putting yourself in. By not telling your doctor about all the aspects of your substance use, you are actually increasing the risks tenfold, even a hundredfold in some cases.

Your doctor might be able to help you

Almost everyone assumes that their substance use is somewhat normal. This is nothing odd, similar to how almost everyone assumes that they are above-average drivers. While there may be some exceptions, this is usually the case. If you are operating on this level, it may be difficult to figure out exactly why your substance abuse is so dangerous. And if you lie about your substance use to the person that has the power to help you, you are doing yourself a considerable disservice. Even if you feel like there’s no need to visit a marijuana rehab center, it is extremely important that your doctor knows all about your substance use. Your doctor can help you detox safely, advise you about your next steps, and can recommend the ideal treatment program.

By being honest with your doctor, you are only helping yourself. Therefore, you might want to try and overcome your feelings of insecurity. Remember, doctors are medical professionals and they are there to help you. By being honest about substance use with your doctor, you are not opening yourself up for judgment. You are starting your recovery process.

That being said, being honest can be quite hard at times. That is why you might want to think about the subject before you visit your doctor. If you want to be honest but are unsure whether you can pull it off, it is usually better to simply say that to your doctor. In fact, this might be something that you want to “lead” with when you start the conversation. If you need some additional help, the next part of the article will be all about how to make yourself be honest.

How to go about being honest about substance use with your doctor

Now that you know why being dishonest is bad for your recovery process, it is time to learn how to be honest in the first place. Remember, being honest is not simply about telling the truth. While this is a large part of it, of course, honesty is also about being genuine and real both with yourself and with your doctor. While you may be able to be fully honest about “simple” things such as Blue Cross Blue Shield drug rehab coverage, for example, bringing your inner thoughts to light might be quite frightening. To make it easier for you, you may want to understand the following three things:

  • Everything you say is confidential
  • Your doctor has seen it all already
  • You are putting your health first
person pointing at their head
Once you have the right mindset, being honest is much easier.

Furthermore, you need to be aware that being honest will help you prevent relapse. Becoming honest is not as easy as flipping a switch, however. You need to make it a daily practice until it becomes second nature. Unfortunately, most of us feel like we need to tell lies at some point in our lives. However, there is a huge difference between telling “white” lies to your social circle and lying about your medical condition.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few things that may allow you to be more honest with your doctor.

Everything you say is confidential

If you are being honest about substance use with your doctor, you don’t have to worry about that information leaking out. Your doctor is a medical professional and is also bound by the law of patient-doctor confidentiality. Unless you plan to harm yourself or someone else, you have absolutely no reason to fear that anything you say will leave the room. Furthermore, you are also protected by law as your doctor can’t testify against you. That is the whole point of doctor-patient confidentiality in the first place.

Therefore, if your reasons for keeping aspects of your substance use have to do with worrying about information leaking out, you can rest assured that you don’t have anything to worry about. In fact, doctor-patient confidentiality was originally created to allow you to be honest about your problems and focus on your recovery. Furthermore, your doctor might be able to provide you with additional options, such as extended Cigna rehab coverage if you are being honest.

Your doctor has seen it all already

If the cause of your dishonesty is that you think you will feel embarrassed, knowing that your doctor has already seen it all might help. In fact, chances are that your story is not even near some of the stories that your doctor has already heard. Even if your story is something completely new, your doctor is there to help you. It is very important to understand that both you and your doctor share the same goal – achieving the best health outcome. Once you realize this, being honest about substance use with your doctor will come much more naturally.

a careful doctor, showing the importance of being honest about substance use with your doctor
Medical professionals have seen and heard it all already.

Furthermore, by being completely honest, you may provide your doctor with enough information so that they can suggest the best treatment center for you. There can be a large difference between a rehab Wilkes Barre PA treatment center and a treatment center in Scranton, for example. If you do not tell your doctor the complete truth, they will not have enough information to suggest the best place for your recovery.

You are putting your health first

At the end of the day, you are talking to your doctor to improve your health. By disclosing all the pertinent information, you are making sure that you are getting adequate treatment. Before you think of being dishonest, consider why you are talking to your doctor in the first place. In other words, if you genuinely want to achieve full and complete recovery, being honest is absolutely necessary.

Being dishonest about substance use with your doctor can lead you on a very dangerous path. There are quite a few consequences of dishonesty, some of which may interfere with your day-to-day life, even outside treatment.

Consequences of dishonesty

There are two primary reasons why you may want to avoid being dishonest:

  • Dishonesty may destroy your relationships
  • Dishonesty may make you feel trapped

You may think that you are lying to your doctor to protect yourself. However, this is almost never the case. Furthermore, once you do lie to your doctor, chances are that you are going to continue lying for the entirety of your treatment. You may visit an Allentown rehab center and tell them the same story you told your doctor. You may then continue lying to your friends and family. This creates a vicious circle of lies you may have extreme trouble getting out of.

Therefore, before you even start being dishonest, consider the following:

Dishonesty may destroy your relationships

Chances are that your substance abuse has put a strain on your relationships. In fact, you may think that no matter what you do, you will never be able to rebuild them. This is where honesty comes in. If you are being honest, both with yourself and your social circle, rebuilding a relationship is almost always an option. You need to understand that your friends and family members want you to recover. While rebuilding relationships might be a bumpy road at times, it is one that has to be paved with honesty.

two people arguing, symbolizing why it is important being honest about substance use with your doctor
Being dishonest is one of the best ways to ruin a relationship.

Consider this: Your dishonesty or honesty about your substance use is what is going to make or break the relationships that you have. Not only that, but you may run into trouble with your sponsor if you keep being dishonest. If you are attending a rehab center Reading PA and you have someone sponsoring your treatment, lying about your substance use can compromise the entire process. You need to make your recovery your #1 priority, which means you need to start being honest about your problems. Even though being honest might seem to be the wrong choice, it is never the wrong choice. The people who love you and care about you will respect your honesty and help you on your path to recovery.

Dishonesty may make you feel trapped

If you have ever felt that dishonesty makes you feel trapped during your substance use period, know that being dishonest during recovery can be even worse. To avoid this, try to figure out what’s keeping you from being honest in the first place. Most people are dishonest about their substance abuse because it is usually easier to hide your challenges than to face them head-on. However, the reason why this is entirely the wrong approach to take is the fact that you can’t make any meaningful progress until you can openly recognize the challenges that lie ahead of you.

Once you figure out why you are dishonest, taking the appropriate action will become much easier. That being said, it is usually not enough to have “bouts” of honesty here and there. What you need to do is maintain your honesty for the entire duration of your treatment.

How to maintain honesty for the duration of your treatment

Maintaining an honest approach during treatment is not easy. However, it is not really that hard, either. Here are some of the things that might help:

  • Realize and acknowledge your emotions and feelings
  • Own up to your mistakes and struggles
  • Keep yourself on the right path
the word "honest" spelled by colored thread
Being honest will only help you in the long run.

At the very least, try to always practice being honest about substance use with your doctor. No one is saying that you need to open up completely to a stranger in a Scranton rehab center, after all. Your doctor, however, is the one person you cannot afford to be dishonest with, not even once. Here’s what you can do to enable yourself to be honest with your doctor at all times:

Realize and acknowledge your emotions and feelings

Most people who are trying to recover from substance use feel a degree of shame, guilt, and self-doubt. This is all perfectly normal. What most people do is simply ignore or avoid these emotions, as they make them feel uncomfortable. However, ignoring, suppressing, or avoiding your feelings only leads to more pain and emotional distress down the proverbial road. Instead, acknowledge those feelings and embrace them. They are there, and they are affecting you. And that is alright.

There are numerous ways how you can deal with these feelings and emotions once you recognize them. For example, you can start writing a journal, where you will detail everything that you feel. Alternatively, you can discuss them with your therapist or you can bring them up at group therapy meetings. The best way to deal with any such feelings, however, is to partake in sober, fun activities. These activities may include anything that you find enjoyable, such as exercising, spending time with your loved ones, making art, playing or listening to music, etc.

Own up to your mistakes and struggles

Recovering from substance abuse is incredibly difficult. It is natural that there will be ups and downs, and that you will make plenty of mistakes along the way. Even though these mistakes might be shameful or hurtful, you must understand that they are a part of the process. Simply take them as what they are, a stepping stone to your recovery. By being honest about substance use with your doctor, even if you relapse at some point, you will only strengthen your resolve and make the subsequent treatment even more effective. By talking to a medical professional about the challenges you are facing, you are setting yourself up for future success.

1+1 = 3 on a blackboard
Own up your mistakes instead of lying about them.

Keep yourself on the right path

Substance use recovery is not something that happens overnight. Most people need years and years to recover from their former ways. However, some people experience a sense of freedom as soon as they complete the initial stage of their treatment. They think they are cured and don’t need to try hard or be honest anymore. If your mind happens to wander on a similar path, you might want to stop before it compromises your recovery. The most important thing you can do for yourself is keep yourself on the right path. This means that you need to maintain your commitment to treatment and therapy.

Overall, being honest about substance use with your doctor is extremely important to set your recovery on the right path. Even though it might not be easy, becoming more honest will help you before, during, and after the treatment’s completion.

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