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Health care professionals are used to helping others and providing care for their patients. But what happens when they become patients themselves?
The high stress levels associated with the health care profession and easy access to prescription drugs can become a perfect environment for a drug problem. No one knows how widespread drug abuse is within the health care community, but with other people’s health at stake – it’s important that health care providers recognize when they have a problem and get help from a substance abuse program.
Health Care Professionals Are At Higher Risk
The health care profession, like many other high stress industries, represents a higher risk for drug dependence and abuse than the average job.
Doctors, nurses and pharmacists all work long hours under incredibly stressful conditions. Many have their patient’s lives in their hands and are required to make split-second decisions about care and treatment. This emotional and psychological stress can wear a health care provider down and make it more likely for them to turn to a substance for help.
In addition, health care professionals work physically demanding jobs. Doctors, nurses and pharmacists spend hours on their feet, don’t get enough rest and rely on caffeine to get them through the day. The body aches and pains associated with their jobs can make pain relievers and other prescription medications seem like a good choice for helping them get through the day. Health care providers may turn to alcohol and other drugs for the same reasons.
The physical and emotional stress that health care providers experience is not uncommon for professional careers – but there is one more factor that leads to a higher incidence of substance abuse for health care professionals: Unlike law enforcement officers and other employees in high stress jobs, health care workers have much greater access to prescription drugs. They can forge prescriptions or steal from a hospital’s supply with greater regularity than the average person.
Even if they try to quit on their own, they are faced with daily temptation and may find it hard to come off the prescription drugs.
The Facts About Substance Abuse Programs for Health Care Professionals
Substance abuse is a problem for anyone – but for health care professionals it can be deadly. An impaired health care provider is a danger to themselves and to their patient. Getting professional help is absolutely essential.
There are many substance abuse programs to choose from, but if a friend, loved one or coworker is a health care professional, you may want to find a treatment program that specializes in that particular field. Health care professionals face a unique set of challenges when it comes to getting off of drugs or alcohol. A program that is tailored to their needs can help them uncover the stressors and painful feelings that led to drug abuse in the first place, and provide them with tools they can use in their day-to-day life.
Most importantly, substance abuse for health care professionals can help a patient discover whether continuing on this career path is the right thing for them, or if they need a change. An industry-specific substance abuse program can pave the way for long-term success for a health care provider.