To think that this doctor let me down..

(33 Posts)
Letdownbydoctor Wed 18-Dec-13 09:40:47

I have been drinking more than I should for over a year now. Generally about half a bottle of wine a night and more that the weekends. I know that this is wrong and want to do something about it, but am always so stressed at the end of the day that I reach for a glass. It has been a really tough year, but most of the pressures have now eased and it is a good time to focus on this.

My DM was an alcoholic and was bi-polar. She committed suicide in a drunken stupor 6 years ago.

I get private health care with work and every 2 years get a full 'health check'. This involves lots of tests, including blood tests and an hour with a GP. They send you a 12 page 'health and lifestyle questionnaire' t complete before your appointment.

I have never mentioned my alcohol intake to a healthcare professional previously, but decided that this was the time to address this and get some help. Even if nothing practical the doctor could do, I felt that just talking about it to someone about this would be a first step.

So, for the first time I was honest on the form about my alcohol intake. I also put on my mums history (previously I had put the bi-polar, but not the alcohol abuse). I also put down 'concerned about my alcohol intake' down as an area I would like to discuss with the GP.

When it got to the GP session, she skipped over that section and then at the end asked if there was anything else I would like to discuss. I pointed out my alcohol intake and my DMs history and said that I was worried that I was now drinking wine every night. The GP said 'you and every mum in Surrey'. I think that your alcohol intake is normal for a busy mum in a stressful job and she basically then moved on and made it impossible for me to raise again (it had taken me so much to raise it the first time).

My blood tests came back and my liver function is fine…I was almost hoping there was something physically wrong so that I could raise this again.

I feel really let down and not sure where to go next….

Percephone Wed 18-Dec-13 12:01:46

Really, your GP cannot do much other than advise you to cut down and attend your local alcohol service or AA. You self refer to those. It's like me going to the GP and saying I can't stop eating cake.

Hermione123 Wed 18-Dec-13 11:58:58

You shouldn't drink more than every other day usually for your liver. You should complain about that dr. You clearly could benefit from a therapist. Agree you need to address it now as it'll only get harder. If you need to have something in the house to feel ok, you need to get a therapist on your private health, 6-8 cbt sessions could make a huge difference. Goodluck op!

HopeClearwater Wed 18-Dec-13 11:52:50

...which you might - you seem to have trouble not having something to drink when you have promised yourself not to.

HopeClearwater Wed 18-Dec-13 11:51:28

You might want to think about attending an Al-Anon meeting - plenty in Surrey. They are for relatives and friends of alcoholics. Your upbringing has probably affected you and your relationship with alcohol and Al-Anon might help you make sense of both those things. It might also help you decide whether you have a dependency on the stuff.

Letdownbydoctor Wed 18-Dec-13 11:35:56

Sorry, and to be clear, it was not my GP it was a GP who I had an hour with as part of a 'Health care check' with I get with my private healthcare through work.

Letdownbydoctor Wed 18-Dec-13 11:34:30

Mumsy - all I wanted really was to talk about it. I was definitely not expecting any treatment or even any advice. It took me a lot of mental preparation to write it on the form and then raise with the doctor and i just felt completely dismissed.

Green - I would hate to have no wine in the house…

I do feel that I have now taken the first step just by posting here though. I have never talked about this or written it down before and it feels like I have confronted myself for the first time.

Thanks for comments and support.

quesadilla Wed 18-Dec-13 11:33:30

Mumsy you're right that its down to the individual to set goals and stay on top of it, certainly at that stage of a drinking habit.

But I do also think its surprising, given how much public health PR is going on about alcohol at the moment, how little support is available to people who fall short of the technical definition of an alcoholic but for whom drinking is beginning to be a problem.

Sure, GPs are over-worked and probably not qualified to provide the sort of support someone like the OP wants. But surely in a case like this it wouldn't be that difficult to prescribe a course of counselling to enable the OP to work through feelings about alcohol etc and work towards the next steps.

I was really angry when, having battled for more than 20 years to get my dad to acknowledge that his drinking was a potential problem (and it having contributed to a stomach illness for which he was hospitalized) his GP dismissed it as normal when he raised the question during a routine visit. My dad is the kind of person who really trusts what his GP said and had she given him a bit of a talking to he would have been much more inclined to take it seriously. As it is he just thinks I'm a bully when I mention it and carries on regardless.

People like the OP who take it seriously enough to ask for support should get that support.

OTheHugeManatee Wed 18-Dec-13 11:25:41

And you don't really need to be referred for addiction counselling just to stop drinking on school nights. If you put the kettle on first thing when you get in, and have something to eat as soon as possible, you'll be fine.

OTheHugeManatee Wed 18-Dec-13 11:24:10

The definition of an alcoholic is someone who drinks more than their doctor. Clearly this doctor drinks more than you do. I would suggest finding one that doesn't drink at all, so they can panic about your (IMO really not that excessive) alcohol consumption with you.

greenfolder Wed 18-Dec-13 11:21:25

I can understand your worries esp with history. How do you feel if there is no wine in the house? Would you go out to buy it specifically?

Mumsyblouse Wed 18-Dec-13 11:18:21

I completely get that you wanted the GP to acknowledge your concern, however I am not sure what treatment you wanted. You are, probably by all addiction measures, not an alcoholic, and so treatment on the NHS wouldn't be appropriate at this stage. What would be appropriate would have been a discussion about why you felt concerned, and for you to set some goals around perhaps not drinking two nights a week or so on.

I have lots of friends who drink a lot of wine, and when they feel it's getting too much, they often rein it back in again, or agree with their partners to have an alcohol free month or whatever. I think expecting the NHS to leap in and offer you something is probably a little much at this stage because whatever they offer, it would still depend on you exercising some power in the situation and restricting or stopping drinking.

I don't think you were being unreasonable to expect the dr to be sympathetic and acknowledge your concerns, but ultimately it's like eating a bit too much every evening when you want to lose weight- there's no magic pill that is going to stop you, and at least in the early stages, it's about finding that control/determination/weighing up the pros and cons from within. I think hanging out on the thread you mentioned and getting support from friends might be a more realistic way to deal with it anyway.

Letdownbydoctor Wed 18-Dec-13 11:09:49

Quesadilla - Thanks. That is exactly where i have always been until this past year. An odd glass during the week and then a shared bottle of wine with DH on a Friday and Saturday. But DH has been severely depressed this year (hence one of the sources of stress), and I think it is the drinking alone that has tipped me over.

OatcakeCravings Wed 18-Dec-13 11:07:33

What exactly do you expect your Doctor to do? You are fine physically, you think you drink too much then drink less! If you can't then look for some help - Google would be your friend here - there must be some sort of alcohol support in Surrey.

quesadilla Wed 18-Dec-13 11:02:29

letdown I just wanted to add also that my drinking habits were more or less like yours until about three years ago (basically when I got pregnant). I've made a concerted effort to drink minimally during the week -- I average about two to three units between Monday and Thursday and then give myself more of a free reign at weekends. Its not perfect but I'm comfortably within my safe units range and I don't miss it on the off nights.

It was scary at first but actually you start to get a strange buzz from being booze free after a while when you get used to it -- or at least I did.

It takes a while to get used to but as long as you don't have a serious dependency problem -- and it doesn't sound as if you do -- you will probably find once you get past the first few weeks it will fall into place.

It might also be worth speaking to a counsellor about it as opposed to a doctor. Not necessarily AA but just someone who can walk you through your feelings about alcohol and stress.

Letdownbydoctor Wed 18-Dec-13 10:40:44

Thanks for the brave babes suggestion. I have joined their latest thread.

I do not want to give up drinking socially. I just want to break the habit of wine every night, even if I am alone.

WipsGlitter Wed 18-Dec-13 10:32:22

I agree, a private GP is not going to be that interested in this. You would be better going to your own GP. Do you want to give up completely? Would you consider AA? I know there are some threads on here where posters who are giving up give each other support. I think they call themselves the brave babes if you can find a link.

BitchyFestiveFace Wed 18-Dec-13 10:11:15

Well done for recognising a potential problem. I wouldn't read too much into the liver function test - I have a friend who has been seriously abusing alcohol for decades, I mean, REALLY abusing it, you wouldn't believe the amount he drinks - and he's had two liver function tests that have come back fine. As I understand it (and I'm not a doctor so I may be wrong) the liver can take a lot of shit and just keep working, until one day it doesn't.

See your GP. The fact that you intend not to drink in the morning, but then find you can't help yourself come the evening, rings alarm bells for me.

NationMcKinley Wed 18-Dec-13 10:03:18

Good for you in recognizing that you may have a problem. Alcohol units aside, IMO it's how you feel that's at the heart of the matter. Any amount if alcohol, be it half a glass or half a bottle a night, is a concern if it's something you feel you're dependent on. I second seeing your own GP if you feel you need professional help, or why not see if you can cut down of your own volition? I think it's unlikely, especially as your liver function tests are normal and on the amount you drink, that you'll suffer any serious physical withdrawal symptoms. Maybe try drinking on alternate nights to start with or just weekends? Very best of luck, you've taken the most important step grin

Middleagedmotheroftwo Wed 18-Dec-13 10:01:57

Try your NHS GP. They have more of an incentive to look at your long term health.
Or, alternatively, there are lots of self help groups you could get advice and support from, not least AA.

As a previous poster said - could you start this evening by having a cup of coffee instead of a glass of wine?

I'd find it easier to resist at the point of sale, and not buy any alcohol, rather than resist drinking it once it's in the house. If you have any unopened bottles, could you donate them towards a Christmas raffle somewhere, or give them to someone, or pour them away even, to reduce temptation?

Letdownbydoctor Wed 18-Dec-13 10:01:05

quesedilla - interestingly the doctor was a similar age to me and had already mentioned earlier in the consultation that she has children of a similar age to mine, so may be related to her own drinking.

The private GP just seemed like a 'safe' option to have this first conversation.

lyndie Wed 18-Dec-13 10:00:42

The private Dr won't be able to refer to alcohol treatment services, maybe see your own GP? AA, drop in clinic, look for private alcohol counselling?

SettingPlaster Wed 18-Dec-13 09:59:59

Honestly, OP, GPs have heard it all. If anything, s/he would probably admire you for deciding to tackle a problem which will eventually cause physical problems, even if it's not doing so now.

Letdownbydoctor Wed 18-Dec-13 09:59:10

i am also taking pain killers every night to stop me getting a headache, so i must be doing damage somewhere....

quesadilla Wed 18-Dec-13 09:58:26

For me its not so much the alcohol intake itself (which I would say is borderline), its that the GP is being dismissive of a genuine health concern.

I think doctors can be quite blasé about booze. My dad, who drinks too much although its just about under control, has been told several times his alcohol intake is fine when he drinks three large glasses of wine a night.

Frankly I think some GPs say this because they don't want to think about their own booze problems.

Maybe try another GP...

SettingPlaster Wed 18-Dec-13 09:58:23

I don't think your alcohol intake is fine at all, and your liver function is irrelevant if you feel dependent on wine. Go and see your own GP, explain things clearly, and move ahead from there. This GP has a skewed and irresponsible view of a normal alcohol intake.

I certainly know busy working mothers who drink as much as you, but the difference is that you know you have a problem.

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