Treatment for Healthcare Professionals

As one of the most selfless, critical job functions in society, healthcare providers like nurses and doctors dedicate their lives to their patients. They come in early, work late, and commit years of study to providing care with dignity and respect. These medical professionals celebrate with patients, cry with them, and work tirelessly to provide the highest possible levels of medical assistance for those who seek help.

All of this stress comes at a cost, however. Twelve-hour shifts, hospital politics, and the grief of continual loss are heavy burdens to bear, and not everyone is able to face the pressures of the healthcare profession without outside influences. Some doctors and nurses can compartmentalize the stress of work and channel energy into hobbies and family life, but others turn to the perils of drugs and alcohol.

Tragically, addiction is not a rarity in the healthcare field. From long hours to tireless work in a thankless setting, many care providers find themselves resorting to the substances readily available in the hospital as a coping mechanism. Before long, a little taste turns into a big problem, leading to a cycle of abuse that can put both personal well-being and patient lives at risk.

Facing addiction as a medical professional can be extremely challenging, especially for those simply seeking a way to support a family. With the risks associated with admitting substance use at work, from firing to a loss of respect, many nurses and doctors prefer to suffer in silence instead of speaking up. With proper help, however, you can get the assistance you deserve to embrace sobriety and overcome the bonds of addiction.

Addiction in Health Care Professionals

Despite the critically important role doctors, nurses, and therapists play, addiction continues to be an ongoing problem with no easy resolution. From extreme on-the-job stress to easy access to controlled and highly addictive substances, it’s far too easy to develop a habit.

True impaired nurses statistics are hard to come by. Many nurses go to great lengths to hide abusive behaviors, while others seek treatment outside of the confines of work to avoid career ramifications. However, studies estimate that anywhere between 14% and 20% of RNs in the United States have problems with substance abuse. In addition, the executive director of the Delaware State Board of Nursing estimates that a whopping 35% of discipline-related complaints, center on substance abuse.

The story among doctors is similar. Approximately 10% to 12% of physicians will develop a substance abuse disorder over the course of their careers, a rate in excess of abuse patterns in the general population. One study of 904 doctors enrolled in physician health programs determined that alcohol is the most frequent drug of choice (50%) but opioids came in second, with signs of abuse in 35% of the doctors. In another survey of doctors in treatment for addiction, nearly 70% stated that they abused prescription drugs sourced from their places of employment.

The Challenges in Seeking Treatment

Admitting a need for treatment is a large hurdle to overcome for virtually anyone struggling with addiction, but the situation is even more complex for healthcare providers. Unlike the average recreational abuser, doctors and nurses are intimately aware of how addictive drugs function and the effects they can cause. There are no accidents in drug addiction in healthcare professionals; when substance abuse begins, users are well aware of the implications. Drugs are also significantly easier to access for doctors and nurses as well. For most individuals, securing drugs means a doctor’s prescription or an illegal purchase on the street. For hospital or clinic employees, dangerous medications are often readily available on site, and obtaining dosages can be as easy as pocketing a patient’s prescriptions.

Consequences like job loss are always possible, but these risks are significantly more pronounced for medical professionals. While firings and layoffs can happen in normal careers, addiction or theft of addictive medications by doctors and nurses can mean the loss of a license and the immediate end to a career that took extensive education and years of training to obtain.

For many healthcare professionals, these ramifications are devastating, leading to deep denial and refusal of outside aid. Rather than admitting a problem and seeking help, doctors and nurses will instead attempt to hide the signs of addiction and carry on as normal, putting patient lives in grave danger.

Why Help Matters

Addiction doesn’t discriminate. No matter your profession, your beliefs, or your habits, anyone can fall victim to the appeal of drugs or alcohol. And, unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to get clean alone.

While many medical professionals allow the stigma of addiction to prevent them from getting help, this can be a serious error in judgment. While a mistake made by a medical professional while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lead to termination or legal penalties, admitting a problem and seeking help independently can actually lead to the preservation of a license and direct access to care.

In an effort to retain staff and promote addiction treatment, most states and hospitals have programs that allow medical professionals to seek assistance without risking the loss of a job or license. This allows doctors and nurses to self-report substance abuse in order to receive care before it’s too late- both professionally and personally.

How Treatment Can Help

Facilities exist that are prepared and experienced in the treatment of healthcare professionals, providing counseling, rehabilitation, and addiction therapy to those facing the trials and tribulations of substance abuse.

Many healthcare providers believe that they can treat themselves without professional assistance, applying knowledge related to withdrawal, detox, and medical support to their own lives. However, this is far easier said than done. Due to the lack of control that accompanies addiction, it’s virtually impossible to temper cravings in this manner, leading to a pattern of deepening addiction with no end in sight.

No matter your own experiences in treating addiction in others, professional care for addiction is essential. Without the support and oversight of inpatient treatment, getting clean and avoiding relapse is challenging.

Start Your Journey to Sobriety

If you or someone you love is abusing drugs, The Treatment Center can provide the assistance you need to get back on track. Please contact us today at (561) 582-2030 to learn more about our services.