Becoming a doctor or nurse are two of the most rewarding careers as you get the opportunity to help others every single day. Sadly, long hours, intense stress and the weight of making life-or-death choices can take its toll. Many turn to alcohol or drugs to take the edge off. Yet, this can start a vicious cycle of addiction that ruins your personal and professional life.
Physician drug abuse and substance abuse among healthcare professionals are on the rise and increases every year. For those who spend their lives helping others, you may feel like you can’t ask for help yourself. If you are a physician or nurse struggling with drug abuse or alcoholism, you can find hope and healing in recovery.
Risk Factors for Substance Abuse in Nursing and Other Healthcare Professionals
Physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals often feel their medical knowledge and understanding make them immune to the dangers of addiction. However, addiction rates among medical professionals are as high, if not higher, than drug and alcohol abuse in the general population. With 10% to 15% of healthcare professionals falling prey to addiction, it’s clear there’s a problem — but why does it happen?
Working in the medical field has unique risk factors other jobs don’t have. From easy access to narcotics to the field’s emotional and physical toll, there are a variety of reasons doctors or nurses get addicted to drugs:
- Physical and emotional demands of patient care
- Continued exposure to life-threatening and high-risk situations
- Chronic staffing shortages in hospitals and medical facilities
- Unpredictable and exhausting work hours
- Increased demand for healthcare services
- Threat of malpractice
- Feeling responsible for regrettable outcomes regarding a patients’ health and wellbeing
- Access to prescription drugs
Roadblocks to Drug Abuse Treatment for Physicians, Nurses and Medical Professionals
Almost all medical professionals understand the dangers of addiction and being impaired by drugs or alcohol on the job. Despite this, many are still reluctant to seek help. If you or are a loved one are part of the medical field and struggle with addiction, you must take into account the unique factors that affect your chosen profession. Understanding drug abuse among healthcare professionals may help you overcome these obstacles to get the help you need:
- Social stigma: You don’t want to lose your good reputation or be seen as weak or fallible.
- Loss of job: You may be afraid of losing the privilege to practice medicine — not just your job but also your license.
- Legal and criminal repercussions: Those who practice while impaired by alcohol or drugs can face serious criminal charges.
- Shame: You may feel embarrassed that you struggle with something you have treated in others.
- Denial: Highly functional addicts may feel there’s no issue.
We Can Help With Doctors and Drug Abuse
Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals suffering from addiction put their own health at risk and the wellbeing of patients in their care. It may be hard for you to admit you have an addiction, but the sooner you can face this reality head-on, the sooner you can get help.
At Gateway, we honor those in these highly-respected and regarded lines of work. However, we understand that you are not immune to addiction. Our individualized treatment programs cater specifically to your needs so you can get a fresh, healthy start. From detoxification to specialized therapy, you’ll get to the root of what caused your addiction and learn healthier ways to cope once you’re back in the workplace.
We assure full confidentiality as you take this all-important step toward recovery. If you would like to learn more about our focused help for healthcare professionals battling addiction, contact us today.