Text Size

Should I Take Medicine for Panic Attacks? I Have a History With Addiction.

answered 12:01 PM EST, Sat January 07, 2012
I have been having a really hard time for the last few months with social anxiety and panic attacks. I have always been shy but this is something very different. My doctor is recommending a couple of different anti anxiety medications (I forget the names) but she said I would become dependent on them If I started using them and I wouldn’t be able to stop very suddenly. This really worried me, because I have had problems in the past with addiction. My doctor does not know of my past with addiction. I am not sure if I should tell her either. I am worried that if I tell her about my past she will be reluctant to prescribe me with certain medications and I want to be the one to decide what I should use based on the best available medical advice. Should I be very worried about using anxiety medications that have a risk of abuse if I have a history of addiction? Am I right in thinking that if I tell my doctor she may be reluctant to prescribe to me?

William Anderson Says...

You need to change the way you work with your doctors.

First, you need to be straight with them. They need the right information in order to do their job, and you're not giving it to them. When they decide on what to do based on inaccurate or incomplete information, bad things can happen, even deaths.

If you can't be straight with your current doctor, get a new one and be absolutely straight. You are not there to impress anyone, least of all someone you hire to give you medical services. Find a doctor you can work with, and keep looking until you find one you like.

Second, in your case, you should be working with a specialist. You are describing two conditions that a lot of doctors in general practice are not prepared to treat expertly: anxiety disorders and addictions. Your addiction is in remission, but it still requires attention in the treatment. The anxiety disorders you describe are not the garden variety that the family doctor usually takes care of. The kind of specialist for these disorders is a psychiatrist. They are the experts with these things, and your doctor should be referring you to one. They have the necessary knowledge and experience regarding the conditions, the medications and the treatment protocols.

Thirdly, stop trying to be your own doctor. You are trying to decide which medications to take by doing your own research over the Internet and withholding information from your doctor? This is foolhardy. 

You can get these problems under control quickly and get on with creating a happy life, but it will take teamwork with medical experts, where you do your part and you let them do theirs.

Get to work today on lining up an appointment with a psychiatrist, and invite them into your confidence to get this problem solved ASAP. There is no need to stall and worry over it. You'll feel better as soon as the appointment is made. 

One more thing: Get it straight in your head whether you want to stay clean or start using again. It's not unusual for the dormant addiction to find it appealing to take an anti-anxiety med, especially when there is a good excuse. If that were the case, you couldn't tell the doctor about the addiction history, now could you? Don't let the addiction rear it's ugly head. Decide what you want and get going on it.

Email It Send this page Print It Print friendly page Subscribe Subscribe to this topic category

Page last updated Jan 07, 2012

Join Thousands of Readers

who receive our weekly recovery newsletter.

Anxiety: Featured Experts
All Experts

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.