Should You Tell Your Doctor About Your Illegal Drug Use?

If you are taking illegal drugs, you should tell your doctor. Your doctor can then give you the most effective treatment options without reporting you to the authorities.

Yes, you should tell your Ohio doctor about your illegal drug use. If you do, your doctor can treat you properly. This can include prescribing effective medication, avoiding drug interactions, and referring you to a substance abuse treatment facility.

If your primary care doctor knows about your drug use, they will not report you to the police. They will instead focus on giving you the medical help you may need.

Under Ohio law, adolescents 14 years or older may also get mental health care without their parents’ explicit approval.

In 2019, more than 350,000 Ohioans had an illicit drug problem. Telling your primary care provider about illegal drug use can be intimidating due to stigma. However, it can be the first step in getting help for a drug problem.

Why Tell Your Doctor About Drug Abuse?

By law, healthcare providers in Ohio cannot tell law enforcement, family members, or loved ones about your illicit drug abuse. This is known as confidentiality. Your risk of getting into legal trouble is low.

Drug abuse can cause serious health conditions, including organ failure, drug overdose, and mental health problems

If your doctor knows your risk, or if you are suffering from these conditions, they can give you effective treatment options. 

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Drugs You Should Discuss

Illegal drugs that you can tell your doctor about may include:

The only exception to confidentiality may be if your drug use is life-threatening, or causing you to hurt yourself. Even in these cases, you may not be in legal trouble. Instead, your doctor can give you a referral to a drug addiction treatment center.

Risks Of Not Telling Your Doctor About Substance Abuse

Your doctor needs to know your entire medical history, including any past or current drug abuse. If you do not tell your doctor that you abuse drugs, they may not be able to treat you properly.

If you mix prescription and illegal drugs without your doctor knowing, the prescription drugs can be less effective. Mixing these drugs can also cause serious or life-threatening interactions.

Drug Interactions

When you mix drugs together, they can cause stronger side effects compared to taking them separately. If you do not tell your doctor about your drug use, they may prescribe drugs that cause interactions.

Commonly abused drugs can cause the following interactions:

  • liver damage (opioids, over-the-counter medications, antidepressant drugs, and alcohol)
  • breathing problems (opioids, benzodiazepines, antihistamines, and alcohol)
  • excessive bleeding (antidepressants and some over-the-counter pain relievers)

For a complete list of drug interactions, you can talk to your doctor about your history of drug use.

Drug Overdose

Mixing prescription and illicit drugs can increase your risk of a drug overdose.

Drugs that have similar effects can increase your risk of an overdose. This can include mixing opioids and benzodiazepines, multiple stimulant drugs, and some over-the-counter medicines.

Polydrug overdoses can cause a range of serious side effects, including breathing problems, liver damage, high body temperature, and an increased risk of stroke. By telling your doctor about the drugs you are taking, you can minimize your risk of serious side effects.

Substance Use Disorder

Mixing drugs together can increase your risk of drug addiction, also known as a substance use disorder or SUD. Taking multiple drugs at the same time may not be an approved form of drug use. You should only take drugs together when your doctor tells you to.

If you have an SUD, you may struggle with poor mental health, withdrawal symptoms, and other health problems. You can talk to your doctor if illicit drug abuse is hurting your well-being. 

You can also contact Ohio Recovery Center, where you can receive an evidence-based addiction treatment program.

Our detoxification programs, medication-assisted treatment options, and mental health services can treat and manage a variety of substance use disorders. SUDs that we treat include alcohol, stimulant, and opioid addictions. Contact us today to learn more.

  1. Department of Health and Human Services
  2. Food and Drug Administration
  3. Ohio State Medical Center
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: November 3, 2023

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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