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What good is a doctor who treats only people who quit drinking?

Dear Stanton,

Perhaps you can help.

My doctor has dropped me as a patient because of my "refusal to cooperate", i.e. I do not feel that AA is for me. He has been my doctor for fifteen years. I recently was sober for an entire year and when I was honest with him about drinking again he dropped me. He also treats me for depression and hypertension. Any suggestions?

April


Dear April:

It is, of course, a violation of medical ethics to abandon a patient. It is typical in the U.S., however, for doctors – and alcoholism therapists – to reject people who drink. This is terribly wrong on two counts. The person may in fact be able to pursue a moderation goal. Or, alternately, they may be drinking badly but then, of course, they still require medical attention and, if the therapy were any use, alcoholism treatment. Put another way, what good is alcoholism therapy if the only people it is suited for are the ones who can immediately cease drinking?

You need to inform your physician that he is violating his medical code and that, if he cannot treat you, to find a replacement. Of course, as a physician, he sounds like he is not of much use to you in any case.

Best wishes,
Stanton