Doctors, nurses, and other members of the medical community hold the responsibility of being those people turn to in times of need. Whether it be a problem with physical or mental health, a member of the medical community is often there to provide solutions, treatment, and an opportunity to achieve health once again.
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The unexpected high-risk career
Overview of Addiction and Medical Professionals
Medical professionals are often seen as those who are the solution to the problem; therefore, it is sometimes surprising to learn they can be victims of the same challenges and struggles they provide help for. Doctors and nurses can be impacted by struggles with addiction just like anyone else. Unfortunately, because their career requires them to look after the health of so many others, failure to treat addiction can lead to significant detrimental effects for medical professionals and their patients.
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Why Are Medical Professionals Prone to Addiction?
Statistics show doctors and nurses account for one of the highest addiction rates in the American workforce. A USA Today report indicated over 100,000 doctors, nurses, medical technicians, and other health professionals struggle with abuse or addiction. The most common struggles pertained to the use of narcotics, including Oxycodone and Fentanyl.
The medical profession is a difficult one to work in. There are many factors that could put doctors and other medical professionals at a higher risk for addiction, including access, higher stress levels, fatigue, and physical pain, among others. Ease of access and job-related stress are the two that receive the most focus.
Increased or easier access to prescription drugs is one primary explanation of the higher addiction rates among medical professionals. Various studies of self-prescribing behaviors have shown that nearly 90% of physicians have prescribed themselves medications and over half of the healthcare providers who have a prescription for prescription painkillers wrote the prescription themselves. Other research has shown that many medical professionals began abusing substances after receiving prescribing privileges. Additional ease of access concerns centers around open access to prescription carts and other means of accessing narcotics and other commonly abused drugs.
Theories center on work-related stress as being a contributing factor to addiction among medical professionals. On every shift, medical professionals at all levels are exposed to illness, death, and trauma. Their work responsibilities are often highly stressful, and lack of sleep and healthy eating habits are quite common. It is believed that these extreme work expectations are a possible contributing factor to substance use among medical professionals as some may turn to particular substances as a maladaptive coping strategy.
It is important to remember that while the above may be considered as contributing factors, they are likely not the sole reasons medical professionals are prone to addiction. Other factors, including common key risk factors for addiction such as genetics, environment, co-occurring mental health diagnoses, physical health issues, and previous experimentation with drugs and alcohol, may contribute to the development of a substance use disorder or addiction.
Statistics of Medical Professionals and Addiction
The rates of medical professionals who struggle with addictions may be surprising. Across the country, many American adults struggle with alcoholism. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 4.4% of medical professionals report heavy alcohol consumption within the last month. Despite the increasing number of treatment options available for substance use disorders, this number has remained the same for over a decade.
Prescription drugs, including opioids, benzodiazepines, and other prescription medications, is another common form of substance abuse among medical professionals. It is not uncommon for those in the medical community to turn to drugs for stress relief, to treat chronic pain conditions, or to enhance energy and boost work performance. As time progresses, this often becomes a source of dependence or addiction. It is estimated that anywhere between 10 and 15% of medical professionals have misused prescription drugs at some point in their careers. In terms of illicit drugs, the same National Survey on Drug Use and Health data shows as many a 5.5% of medical professionals struggle with illicit drug use.
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Benefits of Going to a Medical Professionals
Most states have impaired physicians’ programs; however, regardless of specific treatment designed for medical professionals, this particular group remains significantly under-evaluated and undertreated for addiction and substance abuse. This is primarily due to the stigma, fear, and hesitation of healthcare professionals (and their family members) to report substance abuse or addiction problems. Although they understand the need for addiction treatment, medical professionals are often hesitant to seek help for fear of potentially negative social, legal, professional, and financial consequences. Also, many medical professionals are their own barrier to treatment. Common attributes in both medical professionals consist of independence, and self-reliance and therefore seeking help from an outside source is contrary to their individual belief systems. Luxury rehab centered around the unique needs of medical professionals allows doctors, nurses, and other members of the medical community to seek treatment in an environment that is in many ways different from traditional treatment settings. Luxury rehab programs enhance amenities, enhanced benefits, and often resort-like treatment settings where working professionals can seek treatment specific to their needs in a highly confidential environment. Luxury rehab is often sought by corporate professionals and other individuals who must remain connected to their employees and their families while seeking addiction treatment.
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How to Find a Medical Professionals Rehab
If you or a loved one are a working medical professional in need of rehab but are unsure where to begin or how to find a medical professional’s rehab, reach out to the team at My Recovery Source today. At My Recovery Source, we have developed working relationships with rehabs across the nation and can help guide you to the best rehab in your area to suit your needs. While all addiction rehab programs must maintain specific treatment standards, not all programs provide the luxury benefits and amenities you desire. If you are ready to seek treatment, let the team at My Recovery Source help you begin your journey to sobriety.