Does telling my doctor I get high also tell my insurance co. & my boss?
April 11, 2014 7:32 AM   Subscribe

For treating anxiety, I traded prescribed Xanax for unprescribed cannabis and I'm very happy. Extremely happy. Occasionally giddy. How honest should I be with my doctor? If I tell them, does that tell my insurance company I'm involved with illegal activities or something? Is that info available to my boss who pays for insurance?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How honest should you be? Not at all honest. You should lie about this with gusto, as often as needed.
posted by thelonius at 7:53 AM on April 11, 2014 [13 favorites]

They will all tell you to be honest with your doctor etc etc but as long as your insurance is paying for your treatment I wouldn't want this in my medical records. Theoretically they are private but in practice they're subpoenable and who needs the worry?
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:56 AM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

your doctor doesn't need to know this. in some states, if you tell the doctor you drink over x amount per day, the doctor is obligated to notify the dmv and they will pull your driver's license. we don't have medicine anymore, we have healthcare, and your healthcare provider is potentially your adversary.
posted by bruce at 8:09 AM on April 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Everything you tell your doctor runs the very high risk of being told to your insurance company. Telling your doctor that you traded scheduled prescription drugs for illegal/unprescribed drugs is a really good way to a) get your Xanax prescription revoked, b) get some bad mojo on your insurance company permanent record (you don't want the words "drug seeking" appearing anywhere) and c) have your doctor treat you with suspicion for the rest of relationship.
posted by griphus at 8:10 AM on April 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

For clarification, do you mean "traded" as in: stopped taking Xanax and then started taking cannabis, or as in: used your Xanax to buy cannabis?
posted by runincircles at 8:13 AM on April 11, 2014

Uh, actually, yeah, that's a pretty big distinction. My answer assumes you gave someone your Xanax and they gave you cannabis, which is possibly the worst thing you can tell your doctor that you did with your medicine.
posted by griphus at 8:18 AM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Trading xanax for illegal drugs is extremely illegal. Your doctor would report you for subversion immediately.
posted by jjmoney at 9:04 AM on April 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Doctors are aware that people smoke weed. This won't be a shock and would also probably be an ok thing to tell your doctor. They're not going to call the cops or anything.

Selling or giving your prescription drugs to people other than yourself is something that you shouldn't tell anyone because it's 1) highly illegal and 2) probably something you should endeavor to stop doing.
posted by shew at 9:22 AM on April 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Ideally, you could trust your doctor, and maybe you have a relationship with yours where you can. I dislike lying, but this is one area where I would do so unless I truly did trust them. I've heard stories about people finding out that their doctor put a diagnosis of substance dependency into their records, after they had said that they smoked pot even infrequently.

The danger of becoming dependant on a substance that you are using to self-medicate is real, but, if I'd have to pick, I'd sure rather have a weed habit than a Xanax one. It's a hell of a lot easier to quit, for one thing. Xanax, in my opinion, is a dangerous drug, strongly habituating, and with a high abuse potential, and I think it's a scandal that they write prescriptions for it like its extra-strength Tylenol. However, the mentality that prescribed drugs are all good, and illegal drugs are all abuse, is pretty wide-spread.

By the way, I took "trade" to mean, you stopped taking Xanax and started smoking pot instead. If the people concerned that you mean literal trading are right, you should not do that: it is very risky, and can get you charged with felonies.
posted by thelonius at 9:23 AM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Uh... I'm not convinced that anon meant TRADED literally, so that might be overreacting. Let's see if there's a followup on that.

I'm of the frame of mind that docs only tell you what you need to know, and even then only if it occurs to them to tell you. I injured my ankle, 3cm avulsion near the achilles tendon, and the doc said "keep it clean and dry" but didn't tell me that I should soak it for an hour 2x/day and stretch, until I complained about reduced range of motion. "Aren't you soaking it?" NO, because you said keep it dry! "Oh. Well, yes, except for soaking it."

And besides - ever asked to see your chart? remember that seinfeld episode?

My friend, a nurse, tells me that you should exaggerate your pain a little (because docs assume that you're already exaggerating) and that ridiculous 1-to-10 pain scale is subjective. She also says to downplay your bad habits a little (because docs assume you're downplaying when you tell the truth)

So if you're not taking other meds, and you're feeling great, keep your mouth shut. If you ARE taking other meds, there are plenty of pro-cannabis resources online to connect you to more information.
posted by ChefJoAnna at 9:29 AM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Regardless of how you meant "traded", no, you should not tell your doctor.
posted by spaltavian at 9:42 AM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah I pretty much assume the doctor should be lied to in cases like these. I heard somewhere that when you tell your doctor how much you drink, they automatically double the number so there is no good side to telling them you take a currently-illegal substance.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 9:53 AM on April 11, 2014

Mod note: I feel like the speculative "if you mean traded as in literally bartered" angle has been pretty clearly answered at this point, so without further details from the asker maybe let's take that as read and just focus on the more general talking-to-doc-about-marijuana question.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:13 PM on April 11, 2014

If you have a prescription for Xanax, and you are supposed to be taking it, and you are not taking it, your doctor needs to know that.

If cannabis has relieved the symptoms for which you were prescribed Xanax, I think you should report to your doctor that these symptoms have subsided, and that as a result you have stopped taking your Xanax.

I don't think you should tell your doctor about the cannabis. I've done this once, and the doctor browbeat me for drug abuse for the rest of the consultation. Drug abuse immediately became the primary cause for my symptom, and all other causes or attempts at diagnosis were immediately discarded. Subsequent investigation has shown him to be wrong in his diagnosis.
posted by the Real Dan at 2:02 PM on April 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'll chime back in to agree with Real Dan. Not only could there be ramifications to you as outlined above; some doctors just have a thing about drugs and will assume that they are central to the symptom set. I have personally experienced a consultation being totally derailed when I mentioned that I had used a hallucinogen (this was a psychologist who had zero idea of what she was talking about.) Just don't go there.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:35 PM on April 11, 2014

I wouldn't mention a thing. Maybe your doctor would react well but maybe not, and if they don't you're screwed. A friend of mine (really) tried to get help from our mutual HMO for depression, but made the mistake of telling them he smoked weed sometimes. Their response, as he related it to me, was to refuse to give him a psych department appointment for the depression unless he completed a two-month outpatient substance abuse program.
posted by Lexica at 7:32 PM on April 11, 2014

Here is some detail. The players are the provider (hospital or doctor), the insurer, and the employer.

The employer pays the insurer to handle everything, and will probably not get detailed information about your visit. Some employers are self-insured, but that just means that there is no insurer. The employer is not going to handle the claims; it will hire a third-party administrator to handle the claims. Again, the details will probably not go to your boss or his boss. But the law does allow it.

The doctor sees you, takes your information, and provides treatment. She will fill out a form that connects what she did with recognized diagnoses. The key point to understand is that she will be very enthusiastic about checking boxes, because every box she checks means that she will be paid more, or at least that there is a better chance she will be paid more. You have occasional heartburn? You now have a diagnosis of gastritis. You're a little unhappy about the fact that your wife is working hard and doesn't want to have sex with you as often as you would like? Diagnoses might include depression or sexual dysfunction.

Tell her you smoke weed? It's a virtual guarantee that there will be a "substance abuse" box checked. That will not serve you well in the future, even if your current employer does not find out anything about it.

Some doors should not be opened.
posted by megatherium at 8:24 PM on April 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

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