Is it totally necessary to disclose cannabis use to your doctor? After all, weed doesn’t carry the risk of overdose or addiction, and most medical professionals agree that it’s safe to use. Hey, some even prescribe it for their patients.
But when you’re going through the initial intake questions at the start of your appointment, and you get to the million dollar question “do you use drugs?”, you might find yourself hesitating. You might not consider weed to be a drug, but your doctor might. What about when you’re seeing a specialist, like a psychiatrist? What if you’re in the emergency room? Do you need to brace yourself for a “drugs are bad” lecture?
Primary Care Physicians
When you’re going in for a routine physical, chances are you know your primary care physician fairly well, and they know you. Or they at least know your medical history. If you’re the type of person who trusts their doctor and wants to be totally and completely honest, then go for it. Talk to them about your cannabis use. If you’re using weed to manage any ailments, like insomnia or menstrual cramps, mention that as well.
There is a flip-side, though. Some doctors might not be so keen on cannabis use and will consider it to be a drug on par with opioids. So, if you disclose cannabis use to your doctor and then, let’s say, develop horrible back pain later that isn’t relieved by over-the-counter drugs or even the weed that you have access to, your doctor may be reluctant to prescribe an opioid to help you manage your pain.
The bottom line here is to use your judgment and decide how much you trust your doctor to work with you in a helpful and effective way. Unfortunately, a large percentage of Americans, particularly those living in rural areas, may not have access to a lot of doctors to choose from. That’s a much larger issue that needs to be addressed.
Suppose you’re seeing a therapist on a regular basis (no shame in that. More people should). Is it a good idea to disclose cannabis use to that doctor? Honestly, it probably is, especially if you’re in a state where medical cannabis is available.
If you’re using weed to manage stress or anxiety, and it’s working, let your therapist know! If you don’t already have a prescription, they might be able to write you one so that you can have access to quality bud. Alternatively, they might refer you to someone who can prescribe it. Especially if you’re seeing your therapist for PTSD or an anxiety disorder.
So what’s the deal with disclosing cannabis use to your doctor in the emergency room? Generally, if you’ve taken anything, even alcohol, you should absolutely let the doctors and nurses know, because of the possibility of any drug interactions.
With cannabis, most ER staff aren’t concerned with drug interactions. It is, however, prudent to disclose your use, whether sporadic or habitual, because it will give your doctor a better picture of your overall health. And if you’re stoned when you’re admitted, absolutely let your doctor know. In the emergency room, you don’t gain anything by lying.
Final Hit: Should You Disclose Cannabis Use to Your Doctor?
In short, yes. At the end of the day, your doctor’s job is to help you keep yourself healthy. Help them help you by being as honest as you can—and that includes talking to them about your cannabis use.