Too often, what leads people struggling with substance abuse or mental health disorders to seek help is hitting a personal rock bottom. Avoidance, denial, and not understanding the importance of primary and preventative care are just some of the reasons that people don’t seek help before their circumstances become extremely problematic. However, by addressing substance abuse and mental health disorders early, they can effectively mitigate negative outcomes and prevent potential life-changing problems.
Primary Care for Mental Health Disorders
Primary care providers are often medical health professionals who treat patients for day-to-day medical issues. These types of specialists are often family doctors or healthcare practitioners who want to help as many people as possible. Because of their wide net approach to healthcare, primary care providers can be an incredibly helpful first step when an individual is ready to get help for mental health disorders or substance abuse.
There is a stigma associated with certain mental health disorders. As a result, many people struggling with symptoms of mental illness may fail to seek a diagnosis or treatment out of embarrassment or fear of being judged. However, since a person’s mental health can be impacted by physiological and psychological influences, seeing a primary care provider for both physical and mental services can be beneficial.
Many people use a single primary care provider for years. Using a primary care provider who already knows your medical history can make it easier to discuss topics that you may be uncomfortable discussing with a stranger. Additionally, your primary care provider can provide referrals to trusted specialists who will be a better fit for you if you need adjunct services.
Primary Care for Substance Use Disorders
Substance use disorder (SUD) is a debilitating and chronic condition that can affect every area of a person’s life: employment, social, emotional, physical, and psychological. Despite the sometimes grave consequences of addiction, many people will live in denial about the seriousness of their substance abuse and only seek out treatment when their health becomes problematic or a serious injury has occurred. Despite receiving treatment for a health concern or injury, they may not ask for help with their addiction.
However, visiting a primary care provider for a substance use disorder opens up an opportunity for simultaneous treatment of health issues and addiction. Additionally, primary care for substance abuse allows individuals to receive medical counseling for their disorder and hear unbiased facts from a medical professional about the consequences of continued substance abuse. Reaching out to a primary care provider to address a substance use disorder creates more opportunities for accessing the help necessary for getting on the road to recovery.