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Preparing for Your First Appointment - Loved Ones

Preparing for Your First Appointment - Loved Ones

Information on how to best prepare for your first appointment at Confidant Health as a loved one.

If you're a family member, friend, or partner to someone who is about to begin treatment for substance use disorder (SUD), their recovery journey may feel like a monumental undertaking even for you. You may experience hopelessness, nervousness, or be a little scared. You may even have doubts about your loved one's chances for success, especially if they've tried treatment before. 

Being an ally can be tough. It's natural to have complex thoughts and feelings during this time. Thank you for choosing us to help . The journey can be tough and we’re to join you on this path. Here are some ways you can support your loved one and get the most out of talking with our providers. 

Be Prepared

Start thinking about what you want to say to our health care provider before the first appointment. There will be a lot of unknowns going into that first meeting. It’s easy for things to slip your mind if you're feeling nervous or overwhelmed by new information, so let’s prepare for that first appointment.

It can help to make a plan a couple of days before your first meeting with one of our providers. Write your questions in a notebook, your phone, or a good ol’ fashioned napkin—whatever works for you to remember. If you have a lot of questions, try to pick the few that are most important to you to focus your discussion with the provider. We want you to get the answers to your questions. That way, if you run out of time, you will have at least touched on the questions that matter most to you. 

 Also, write down the information you feel might be helpful to the provider. This could be anything from past treatment experiences, concerns about diet or lifestyle, information about health conditions, or mental health diagnoses you want to be sure the provider doesn't overlook. We learn a lot from our patients' families, friends, and partners, and we appreciate your input.

Taking time to organize your thoughts will help you  get the most out of appointments with our providers. 

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Ask Questions

We get it! Talking with providers can seem intimidating. Many of us have been taught that the provider has all the power and asking questions might be disrespectful or make them feel bad. You may have had bad experiences with providers in the past. Our providers have been specially trained to truly partner with you and listen to your needs. Your voice is critical. We want to hear what you have to say and to keep an ongoing dialog with you. Our providers want to talk with you, not at you. So if you're feeling nervous, we'd like to offer some tips that might help:

  • If you feel shy about speaking up, try practicing asking questions. It might seem silly, but try testing them out with another person. Or stand in front of a mirror and rehearse. Even role play with your pet. Getting comfortable saying your questions aloud can help you feel more at ease during the appointment.
  • Worried you might forget to ask something important, even if you took the time to write a list? Try not to be too hard on yourself. We've all had that moment of walking out of a meeting and thinking, "Ah, I can't believe I forgot to ask about..." These things happen. You can send a message to your provider at any time to make sure all of your concerns are fully addressed. 

The first appointment is important for setting the tone for your relationship with the provider. Getting comfortable with speaking up will help you feel empowered. But remember, this appointment is also just the beginning of what we hope will be an ongoing dialog.


You're likely going to get a lot of information during that first visit, which can be overwhelming. It's a good idea instead to have paper and pen handy, so you can jot down notes, as well as additional questions that may arise during the appointment. Don't worry if you don't note every detail. You'll also get a full written summary from us after your visit. 

At the end of the appointment, many families find it helpful to review the main points or action items to ensure everyone is on the same page and understands the next steps. 

This is also a useful time to clarify things you may have misunderstood. "I remember you mentioned..." you might ask. "Can you explain that again for me?" Again, our support continues after the visit, and we’ll help answer your questions or address issues that may arise later on.

Keeping a record of your conversations with your loved one's provider is a great way to document the things you've talked about, so you can pick up where you left off at subsequent appointments. Reviewing your notes from time to time may also help you notice patterns you may want to share with the provider and recognize how far your loved one has come as their treatment progresses.

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Our team will call you to answer any questions you have or to help you schedule an appointment.

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Give feedback.

Our providers have a lot of talents, but reading minds isn't one of them. Your feedback is so important to us. You can help support your loved one by sharing with their care team your observations and thoughts about things you may notice during or after visits and talk about your concerns. 

 Tell us what's working, as well as what's not working. If a provider does a particularly exceptional job explaining something, then tell them. Our providers are always building their skills and knowing what works and what doesn't with patients and their families. 

On the flip side, if there's something about the visit you didn't like, then we want to know that, too. It will help our providers tailor the way they work and communicate with you in your shared goal of helping your loved one get well. 

We know this might be different from other providers, but that’s one of the things that sets us apart from other treatment organizations. As a family member, friend, or partner to our patient, your feedback is invaluable. It helps the provider be a better partner for you and your loved one. So please don't be shy in expressing your thoughts and feelings.

Take care.

Supporting a loved one through substance use treatment is a complex journey. Know that there is no one "right thing" to do right now. Being an ally can be tough, and each person takes their own path. Making your loved one's treatment a priority  -- like you're doing right now -- is a huge act of love and support. But we understand that it also can be difficult. 

We encourage you to find ways to take care of yourself, too. We know that caregivers who engage in appropriate self-care are better equipped to support their loved ones' needs. So, please take the time to recharge, even if it’s just a few minutes. Consider these suggestions:

  • Lean on your own support system. Call or text a friend, even to make small talk. Or consider joining a support group if you feel you might benefit from talking with people who can relate to what you're going through.
  • Take time to do things you find relaxing --  Journal, meditate, read, or even zone out on the couch while you watch a favorite TV show. 
  • Be good to your body. Eat nourishing foods, get enough sleep, stay active, and find healthy ways to manage stress. A brisk walk around the block or long soak in the tub sometimes can do wonders.

Remember, taking care of yourself during this time is not selfish; it's essential. You can't effectively support someone else if your own needs aren't being met. It's okay to talk with the provider about your own issues if you feel like you're struggling. We understand, and we are here for you.

Supporting a loved one as they take those first steps down the path to recovery can feel like the most natural and hopeful thing you can do, but it can also feel overwhelming. We want to be there for you from the very first appointment and onward.

This article has been medically reviewed by
Erin Hillers
Clinical Team
Erin Hillers
Nurse Practitioner

Erin is a Nurse Practitioner with 8 years of experience in midwifery and women's health. She has spent the past 5 years specializing in the treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders.

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