Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to a specialist, such as a counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist.

Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Be honest about your drug use. When you have a drug-use problem, it can be easy to downplay or underestimate how much you use and your level of dependence. In order to get an accurate idea of your best course of action, you'll need to be honest with your doctor or other mental health provider.
  • Take a family member or friend along. When it comes to substance use, it can be helpful to get a second perspective from someone who knows you well.
  • Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the best approach to my drug problem?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • Should I see a psychiatrist or other mental health provider? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover seeing a specialist?
  • Will I need to go to the hospital or spend time as an inpatient or outpatient at a recovery clinic?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did your drug use first start?
  • How often do you use drugs?
  • When you take a drug, how much do you use?
  • Have you tried to quit on your own? What happened when you did?
  • If you tried to quit, did you have withdrawal symptoms?
  • Are you ready to get the treatment needed for your drug problem?
Oct. 01, 2011

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