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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Dr. aware of alcoholism; still prescribes Valium & Celex

 marybird - Mon Jan 02, 2006 12:06 am


I need some help with a family situation. My mother has a drinking problem which I would categorize as severe, and although I have called her family doctor on several occasions over the past 10 years to give him info on her alcohol abuse, he is still prescribing Valium and Celexa and has not ever spoken to her about her substance abuse. Am I mistaken in thinking that the doctor has a responsibilty to address the patient on any health issues, even if that information did not come from the patient?
When I have called his office, I've never been allowed to speak with him but his nurse has told me that she puts it in my mother's chart and that the doctor is aware of the situation. About a year ago, my mother called me, very drunk and upset, saying she was going to kill herself. Because I live halfway across the country, I had to call my brother and sister to go to her house and they got the police and EMTs there. She was taken to the hospital (the same one where her doctor practices), and because she was very convincing to the psych doctor and social worker that she was not depressed or suicidal, she was sent home. Her doctor never mentioned this incident to her, and I would imagine that he would have been informed of it by the hospital.
I'm in the process of writing a letter to her doctor to ask him to speak with her about her problem, but frankly, I'm disgusted with his lack of response to the information that I've given him and his apparent lack of concern. Am I out of line if I copy the American Medical Association on the letter that I send to him?
If anyone can provide any help with my situation, I will be very grateful. Also, if you have any ideas on how to get her to face her problem, I'd love to hear them. I've talked with her over the years and she always tells me that she's going to quit "soon" but starts up again (if she even stops for a few days) eventually.
Thanks for you help, and happy new year.
 Shana Johnson, CNA - Mon Jan 02, 2006 3:38 am

User avatar Unfortunatly, There isn't much you can do for your mothers alcohol abuse until she WANTS the help.
The first step in recovering from any dependency is recognizing there is a problem, and asking for help. Until you mother can do this, there isnt much you can do. There is something you can do for yourself.
al- anon is a branch of alcoholics anonamous, is is specifically for family and friends of people suffering from alcohol. It is very helpful with supporting family members. Many people don't realize how hard an addiction can be on the whole family.

As for your mothers doctor, unfortunatly, there isn't much you can do with that either, aside from talking your mother into switching doctors. Since she is an adult, and Im assuming of sound mind, unless you have Power of Attorney, all her medical records are confidential, and your doctor is not allowed to discuss her medical issues with you without your mothers consent.

I wish there was more that could be done, and I truly sympathize with your situation. The best thing you can do is be there for her when she is ready to get help.
 marybird - Mon Jan 02, 2006 12:38 pm

Thank you, Gracie. I will look into the Al-anon thing in my area. Someone gave me information on it years ago and at the time, I didn't think that I was as affected as I actually am.
Just an update: after I posted my topic here last night, I wrote my mother's doctor a letter and basically asked him to speak with her about her alcohol abuse. I also reminded him (very nicely) that I have contacted his office several times about this and that as far as I know (being a non-medical person), the meds he gives her are really not supposed to be used in conjunction with alcohol. I haven't sent the letter yet; waiting to get feedback from another family member first.
Does anyone know if I would be well-served contacting the AMA or the state's Board of Physicians to complain about this doctor?

Thanks again,


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