Alcoholics often feel ill, yet many resist visiting the GP.

Why addicts avoid the GP

There are a number of reasons for this, one of them being that we do not want to admit to our problem. We also do not  want to ask for help. We may or may not realise that our drinking is what is making us ill. Yet, we do not want to be told to cut down or stop. I remember going to a ‘well woman’ clinic for a general check. They covered smoking and drinking and I was more than happy to announce that I did not smoke. When it came to the drinking question, I tried to appear candid and said I drank too much – 28 units a week. It was in fact it was more like 128. The following check, a few years later I gave the same answer. Again, I was told it was still too high. I was only relieved that I had lied consistently.

Inability to admit the problem

Eventually my drinking got me to a point where I felt stressed and low. This was the opposite of what drinking used to do for me, which was make me feel relaxed and happy. I went to the doctors for this stress and depression. Repeating the same lies when asked about my drinking, I told her just one or two glasses a night. It was not until my drinking got so bad that I had to go to a clinic for a detox. Here, I finally admitted the problem while visiting the GP. Even then, I asked to go to a clinic for stress related reasons. I admitted the alcoholism after I was detoxed, came out and started drinking again. It had to be really bad for me to tell my GP the truth.

Coming clean to your GP

Most of us do not tell the real truth about our drinking to when visiting GPs – it is no wonder they get fed up with us. They cannot have a chance of treating us appropriately if we do not tell the truth and ask for help. Also, because they do not really understand alcoholism, they believe our lies. As many of us do not get the psychological help we need, we carry on drinking. It must be a great source of misunderstanding and frustration to our GP. If we do get the help we need and actually enter recovery, how many of us tell our doctors we are now well? Doctors tend to only continue to be visited by the active alcoholics. It is infuriating for doctors who have never been in the grip of addiction to be handling patients who lie, and refuse to take advice to get better.

So if you are still drinking, go and be honest with your doctor and tell him or her exactly how much you are drinking. If you subsequently get well, tell your GP how you did it so he or she can pass on that information to the next alcoholic patient. If you are already in recovery, do this soon! My GP did recommend Alcoholics Anonymous to me and I have told him that this is one of the best ways for us alcoholics and addicts to get well. I am an example of that.
If you have an alcohol or drug related problem, please call 01462 851 414 for free and confidential advice and help.