Addiction treatment for physicians and medical professionals

Physicians and medical professionals also need professional help for substance addiction. What does the treatment for the medical population look like? Find the answers here.

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Physicians and medical professionals and addiction treatment

The idea of physicians and medical professionals often brings about thoughts of health and healing, not thoughts of drug and alcohol abuse and dependence. Did you know though, that medical professionals, including physicians, are just as likely as anyone to abuse drugs and alcohol? In fact, some even believe that substance abuse in the medical community may be slightly more prevalent in comparison to people from other profiles, due to ease of access to prescription drugs and a high stress work environment.

Physicians and medical professionals may start abusing drugs or alcohol for a number of reasons.

  • Escalation of social drinking
  • Coping mechanism for a high stress career
  • Staying alert during long hours in medical school or on the job
  • Self-medication

No matter what the reason for their substance abuse, it’s imperative that addicted physicians and medical professionals get help as soon as possible. For physicians and medical professionals, addiction treatment should include a few important aspects, such as group therapy with peers and the ability to re-enter a clinical environment after treatment is complete.

Physician and medical professional drug addiction treatment

Any medical professional will usually be able to tell you the necessary steps for drug or alcohol addiction treatment. Physician and medical professional drug addiction is very similar, as it requires the same basic steps needed for a successful recovery.

1. Screening and assessment

The screening and assessment phase of physician and medical professional drug addiction treatment can be one of the hardest phases of recovery. During this step, an addiction specialist will interview the addicted professional to determine the likelihood of an addiction as well as any underlying mental disorders. An addiction treatment care plan is typically created after the initial assessment.

2. Detox

Depending on a medical professional’s individual situation, he or she may need to undergo medical detox. This involves a short stay in a medical detox facility or unit while the body rids itself of any last remaining drugs or alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms from most substances are very uncomfortable, and some may even be dangerous. Constant monitoring can help make these symptoms more bearable and nearly eliminate the possibility of a relapse.

3. Treatment

Physician and medical professional drug addiction treatment requires a multifaceted approach. Individual counseling, group therapy, family counseling, and medication are some common types of addiction treatment for medical professionals.

4. Aftercare

Once a medical professional has completed an addiction treatment program, aftercare is extremely important. In fact, many employers, such as hospitals and clinics, require medical professionals to go through aftercare once they have completed an addiction treatment program. This usually involves continuing outpatient counseling sessions as well as random drug tests and alcohol tests. in order to stay employed, medical professionals will also usually be required to sign contracts stating that they will be terminated if the continue using drugs or alcohol or if they do not follow up with their treatment.

Physician and medical professional addiction treatment barriers

There are a number of obstacles that get in the way of physicians and medical professional addiction treatment. Barriers may be personal or professional in nature, and may include the following.

  • Personal, religious, or cultural views regarding addiction
  • Inability to find a suitable addiction treatment program
  • Fear of a ruined career
  • Shame admitting addiction to professional peers
  • Personal responsibilities, such as dependent children and spouses

Addicted physicians and medical professionals

It’s no surprise that addicted physicians and medical professionals would be wary of asking for help for their addiction. After all, these professionals are often the ones responsible for taking care of other people, and warning them of the dangers of substance abuse. In addition, many addicted physicians and medical professionals may also worry that their careers may come to an end if they admit to struggling with an addiction.

Despite this, addicted physicians and medical professionals are encouraged to ask for help. Not only could it save their lives, but it could also save the life of a patient, should they be under the influence while treating one. Many medical facilities already have programs in place to help addicted nurses,  physicians and medical professionals. All one has to do is ask. Usually, medical professionals can contact their supervisors or human resources department for guidance. Trusted colleagues can also be a great resources for addicted physicians and medical professionals, who understand addiction and may be able to help set up treatment.

Addicted medical professionals can also go to their own primary physician, psychologist, or psychiatrist for addiction treatment help. These professionals will usually be able to screen addicted individuals and refer them to an appropriate treatment program. In some cases, they may also be able to treat the addicted medical professionals without the need for a lengthy rehab program.

Physician and medical professional addiction questions

To some, it may be surprising to learn of the number of physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals that struggle with addiction every day. For those in the field, however, it may not come as a surprise at all. What’s not surprising, though is the fact that treatment for addicted medical professionals is imperative. If you or a loved one is a physician or medical professional suffering from addiction, we urge you to get help as soon as possible. The life you save may not just be your own. If you have any additional questions or concerns about physician and medical professional addiction, feel free to leave them below. We’ll respond to you as soon as possible.

Resources: NCBI: Risk factors for alcohol and other drug use by healthcare professionals

Department of Health and Human Services: ALCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE AND ADDICTION

NCBI: Impaired healthcare professional

DEA Diversion: Drug Abuse

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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