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Medical Profession Substance Abuse: A Complex Problem

Nov 30th, 2011 | By | Category: Addiction Treatment, Alcohol Treatment Rehab, Drug Treatment Rehab, Health and Wellness

Substance abuse is a problem that isn’t limited to just one type of person or one profession: It can affect people from all walks of life.

Medical professionals are not immune and many struggle with substance abuse addiction. Although it’s difficult to know the exact levels of drug use among doctors and nurses, it’s estimated that one out of every nine Americans struggles with addiction. If the ratio remains the same with medical professionals, it means that roughly 11% of professionals are dealing with substance abuse problems.

How Do Health Professionals Become Addicted?

The pressures and stress of the health care field may drive many professionals to use the prescription drugs available to them. Doctors, nurses and pharmacists are subject to long hours, intense demands and high expectations from the people that they work with and patients that they serve. Their jobs are indeed as important as “life and death.” With easy access to prescription drugs like Oxycontin, Vicodin and Percocet, some professionals choose these substances as outlets for their stress.

Once a medical professional becomes addicted, there is increased pressure to hide the secret. Our society holds medical professionals in high esteem so it’s hard to image your doctor, nurse or pharmacist struggling with an addiction. Knowing this, healthcare professionals can become very good at hiding their abuse. They become high-functioning addicts who can explain away anything. Co-workers may cover up their addictions for them because of the fear of scandal involved.

With access to their drugs of choice on a regular basis, high levels of stress from their job functions and increased motivation to keep their addiction under wraps, addicted medical professionals face some big challenges in coming clean and staying that way.

Drug Rehab for Health Professionals

If you’re dealing with an addiction and are part of the medical community, you know how difficult it can be to overcome temptation when you’re surrounded by it on a daily basis. Drug and alcohol addiction treatment for doctors and nurses can help you deal with your unique circumstances. Since health care professionals can be more likely to suffer from substance abuse problems, it’s important that they (or you) get the proper treatment.

The first step is to admit you have a problem. It’s important to come clean to your supervisor. Most healthcare professionals that are upfront about their addictions can retain their licenses and may be able to go back to work in the medical field after treatment is completed.
Intensive rehabilitation at a different location is essential for recovery. Getting out of the stressful environment and removing temptation can help you eliminate your physical dependence, understand what pushed you to rely on drugs in the first place and develop strategies for working in a medical environment in the future.

If you work in the medical profession and suspect that a co-worker is abusing drugs, it’s important to speak with someone. Their addiction could severely affect the health of your patients, your facilities’ reputation and your co-worker’s well-being.

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