February 16, 2017

Things to ask your GP

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Do you have pain, stress, anxiety or insomnia? You could be prescribed addictive medication.

What to ask your doctor

Book a double (half hour) appointment with your doctor to make sure you have time to properly discuss your treatment.

You could ask your doctor:

What are the side effects of my medication?

  • Is it addictive?
  • Is there anything I shouldn’t do while taking the medication? (Working, driving, looking after children etc?)

How can I avoid these side effects?

  • How often should I take the medication?
  • How much should I take?
  • For how long?
  • Can I drink alcohol?
  • Can I take my other medication?

Do I have to take every pill in the prescription?

  • What should I do with leftover tablets?

What should I do if I’m getting side effects?

  • What are the warning signs of addiction?
  • Are the side effects reversible?

What’s the plan for dealing with my problem long term?

  • How can I reduce then stop taking the medication?
  • How often should I come back and see you?
  • What else could I do to help my condition?
  • Can you refer me to a pain management clinic, sleep clinic, physiotherapist, psychologist, dietitian? How much do they cost? Can I use the mental health or physiotherapist Medicare rebate?

Why should I question my doctor?

We have a problem in Australia with the over prescription of some medications, which is causing many of us unnecessary side effects including addiction and overdose. Medication overdoses are causing more deaths than the road toll.

Medication may be right for you in the short term, but there may be some risks. Research suggests medication shouldn’t be used regularly for very long (3 days for strong painkillers and 4 weeks for relaxants like Valium®) because it:

  • may be addictive (some people can become addicted quicker than others)
  • could give you stomach and bowel problems including constipation, reduced sex drive and fertility, drowsiness, irritability, mood swings, depression, muscle tension, headaches and difficulty sleeping
  • may stop working after a while

Studies show that regular exercise, physiotherapy, healthy eating, relaxation techniques and counselling may be beneficial in helping to manage your condition.

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