Three Reasons to Talk about Alcohol with your Doctor

Seeing your doctor for an annual check-up can trigger deep fears of the unknown. You might be so preoccupied worrying about your family’s medical history and that rash you can’t get rid of that you forget to talk about something you do on a regular basis. Here are three reasons why you should talk with your doctor about how much and how often you drink alcohol.

  1. Alcohol use is on a spectrum. There’s a lot of middle ground between being an alcoholic and never having a drink. While many people tend to think that as long as alcohol use doesn’t interfere with their daily life it’s OK, a report released by the University of Vermont found that almost one in three Americans consumes alcohol at an unhealthy level. Even if you think there’s nothing wrong with the amount of alcohol you consume, putting your use on your doctor’s radar can help him/her alert you to warnings signs and hopefully prevent addiction, interaction with medications or having alcohol use be an exacerbating factor with the development of illness.
  1. Alcohol affects you holistically. Having a drink with friends to celebrate successes, mourn failures or just unwind from the day can be a powerful ritual. Yet the way you consume alcohol affects your mind and body beyond your time at the bar or relaxing on the couch. Making your doctor aware of your alcohol consumption habits will help him/her make an informed decision when it comes time to consider appropriate treatments and interventions, both for your physical and mental health.
  1. Stigma interferes with treatment. Maybe you’re not sure if you have a problem with alcohol or when your use will cross over from casual to addiction. Perhaps you have a family history of addiction and you’re wondering how to make sure you don’t end up like loved ones who were negatively affected by their alcohol abuse. If you have a question or a nagging concern about alcohol, its healthy use, or warning signs that something isn’t right, just ask. You doctor is the perfect person to have a frank conversation with about your drug and alcohol use and the warning signs of escalation and addiction. Don’t let the stigma of alcohol addiction stop you from connecting to information and resources.

Visits to the doctor should touch on all aspects of your health including your physical activity level, mental health and any substances you consume on a regular basis. Knowing how often and to what extent you do or don’t drink alcohol can assist your doctor in identifying potential risks and prescribing you medications appropriately. Beginning a conversation with your doctor about your alcohol use may feel intimidating, but remember that by getting the right information now you may be saving yourself much more trouble and pain down the line.