Doctors, Physicians and Drug Abuse

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Doctors and physicians are humans with a huge set of responsibilities involving the care of other humans. Though tasked with superhuman tasks, they are simply human and prone to stress, anxiety, depression and even addiction — just like everyone else in the world. So when it comes to stress, anxiety, depression and addiction, how many of our nation’s doctors are battling these issues, diseases and disorders?

Statistics For Doctor Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Recently, a study was done to try and figure out just how many doctors and physicians are regularly abusing drugs and alcohol, or have a full blown addiction to drugs, alcohol, or both. The numbers that came from this study are staggering, yet will hopefully shine more light and attention on the topic of doctors and drug and alcohol addiction.

  • Out of 904 doctors and physicians that were enrolled in physician health programs, an astounding 87% were male and admitted to having issues with drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or both.
  • Over half of the doctors and physicians that were enrolled in physician health programs admitted to having alcohol abuse problems (50.3%).
  • 35.9% are enrolled in physician health programs were enrolled due to abuse of opioids.
  • 7.9% had been battling the abuse of stimulants including cocaine and amphetamines.
  • 5.9% admitted to have abuse problems with “other” substances including marijuana and hallucinogenics.
  • 50% of admitted drug and alcohol abusers admit to abusing more than one substance.
  • 13.9% have been involved with intravenous drug use.
  • 17% admit to having prior addiction treatment history and attempts at recovery.

Interestingly enough, there are several medical fields that see higher rates of substance abuse and addiction, including:

  • Doctors and physicians have higher rates of alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and alcohol addiction
  • Anesthesiologists show higher rates of drug abuse involving heavy sedatives and even the anesthetic drugs they are supposed to be dispensing to their patients.

Addiction is a very real disease, and one that does not care about your social standing, your job title, nor about your day-to-day responsibilities. It can strike anyone at anytime, and with it comes the usual side effects of addiction including denial — a side effect that is doubly dangerous when the addict is charged with the health and care of others.

Where Doctors and Physicians Can Get Help For Addiction:

Most of the states within the United States have Physician Health Programs (PHPs) established to help doctors confront their drug and alcohol abuse and addictions head on with specialized addiction treatment and recovery options. Not only are these programs closed and confidential, but they can help doctors to confront and tack their addictions early on, and offer the chance to return to their careers without the worry of humiliation, loss of license/practice, and without severe penalties. This allows so many intelligent and caring doctors to continue their work to help others in the fight against their ailments, diseases and health concerns.

Learn More About Physician Health Programs Below:

Physician Health Programs

Where Doctors Go For Addiction Treatment

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Doctors are among the most valued members of society. The public relies on them to solve medical issues day in and day out. They are indispensable during times of crisis. Yet even these fine professionals can succumb to addiction like regular people.

Doctors and addiction are two words that don’t seem to mix but studies suggest that they are even more prone to substance abuse and related mental health disorders compared to the rest of the population. Possible reasons include high stress and access to controlled substances.

Physician Health Programs

It is clearly in the best interest of the public and the affected doctors themselves that they get prompt and adequate support so that they can drop the destructive habit for good. Physician Health Programs or PHPs were developed exactly for this purpose. They were started in the 1970s to help doctors who were struggling with addiction but have gradually expanded to include incorporate other health professionals. Aside from substance abuse, PHPs now concern themselves with physical disabilities, disruptive behaviors, cognitive disorders, professional boundary issues, and psychiatric disorders.

States that have PHPs

Physician Health Programs used to be present all across the country but there has been a pushback against them due to moral ambiguities. Some sectors of society feel that errant doctors deserve punishment for their actions, not rehabilitation. This punitive sentiment gained traction in many states to the point that many of them have ended their support to the program.

Today only four states remain committed to the corrective approach to the situation. These are Wisconsin, Nebraska, Georgia and California. Those practicing outside of these states will have to settle for alternatives such as private rehabilitation centers and use their own resources to avail of treatments.

The Effectiveness of Rehabilitation

Doctors who undergo treatment have an excellent chance of returning to the profession. Roughly 75% to 85% of physicians are able to abstain for good and go back to work, some faster than others. In some cases, it may be helpful to consider a shift in specialty or an adjustment in work hours to prevent relapse.

Learn More About Physician Health Programs Below:

Physician Health Program