Recognizing Drug Addiction in a Patient

Recognizing Drug Addiction in a Patient

The cost of doing business as a medical professional has skyrocketed and is coupled with the more stringent regulatory mandates that you are presented with. Being a physician with a viable and thriving practice requires that you are a medical professional, a business person, and a marketing person.

Your patients are more mobile than ever, and you may treat someone today who then moves across the country or across the globe for a new employment opportunity. You are presented with patients who are taking their medical well-being into their own hands, demanding more information, seeking alternatives to traditional medicine, and requiring that a physician stay current in the medical field.

Is Your Patient Addicted?

The following are signs of a potential or current drug addiction in a patient:

  • Obsession. Is your patient constantly steering the conversation towards a drug category or a specific drug?
  • Ignoring harm. Is your patient experiencing side effects but is still interested in continuing to take the medication?
  • Compulsion. Does your patient demonstrate anxiety, when you suggest that they begin to wean off the prescribed medication?
  • Denial. Does your patient exhibit addictive behaviors yet deny that he or she is taking any drugs?
  • Secrecy. Is your patient vague or evasive about alcohol or drug usage?
  • Depression. Does your patient suggest that without the prescribed medication he or she feels depressed or suicidal?

If you suspect truth behind your addiction suspicions, you need to act. Trust your instincts and explore the possible addiction further with your patient.

Helping Your Patient Recognize Addiction

You have several options for providing support including the following:

  • Weaning. If the patient is receptive and has identified a problem with prescribed medication, you may work with them to create a schedule for tapering off the dosage or frequency of use.
  • Intervention. Approaching the patient with your concerns is a form of intervention. Be specific as you describe the behaviors that suggest that they may have a problem. Present information about treatment options, recovery resources and local support groups.