You're likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor or a general practitioner. Because your appointment can be brief, it's a good idea to be well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor:
- Consider your drinking habits, taking an honest look at how often and how much you drink. Be prepared to discuss any problems that alcohol may be causing.
- Write down any symptoms you've had, including any that may seem unrelated to your drinking.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Take a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember everything.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Prepare a list of questions ahead of time, from most important to least important, to make the most of your time. For excessive drinking or alcoholism, basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Do you think I drink too much or show signs of problem drinking or dependence?
- Do you think alcohol could be causing or worsening my other health problems?
- Do you think I need to cut back or quit drinking?
- What is the best course of action?
- Do I need any medical tests for underlying physical problems?
- What are the alternatives to the approach that you're suggesting?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
- Would it be helpful for me to meet with a professional experienced in alcohol treatment?
Don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment any time that you don't understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Be ready to answer questions your doctor may ask, which include:
Aug. 09, 2012
- How often do you drink?
- How much do you drink?
- Do you have any family members with alcohol problems?
- Do you sometimes drink more than you intend to drink?
- Have family members, friends or co-workers ever suggested you need to cut back or quit drinking?
- Do you feel like you need to drink more than you previously did to get the same effects?
- Have you tried to stop drinking? If so, was it difficult and did you have any withdrawal symptoms?
- Have you had legal problems or problems at school, at work or in your relationships that may be related to alcohol use?
- Have there been times that you have behaved in a dangerous, harmful or violent way when you've been drinking?
- Do you have any physical health problems, such as liver disease or diabetes?
- Do you have any mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety?
- Do you use illegal drugs?
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- Alcohol and public health: Frequently asked questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/faqs.htm. Accessed March 29, 2010.
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- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 14, 2012.
- Overview of alcohol consumption. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption. Accessed June 2, 2012.
- Underage drinking. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/special-populations-co-occurring-disorders/underage-drinking. Accessed June 2, 2012.
- Alcohol use disorders. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders. Accessed June 2, 2012.
- Fetal alcohol exposure. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/fetal-alcohol-exposure. Accessed June 2, 2012.
- Beyond hangovers: Understanding alcohol's impact on your health. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Hangovers/beyondHangovers.pdf. Accessed June 2, 2012.
- College drinking. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Accessed http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/special-populations-co-occurring-disorders/college-drinking. June 2, 2012.
- Breast cancer. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/DetailedGuide/breast-cancer-risk-factors. Accessed June 12, 2012.
- Public policy statement on the definition of alcoholism. American Society of Addiction Medicine. http://www.asam.org/advocacy/find-a-policy-statement/view-policy-statement/public-policy-statements/2011/12/15/the-definition-of-alcoholism-(ncadd-asam). Accessed June 25, 2012.
- Schneekloth TD (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 23, 2012.
- Thiamin. The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/nutritional_disorders/vitamin_deficiency_dependency_and_toxicity/thiamin.html. Accessed August 1, 2012.
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