The healthcare profession can be one of the most rewarding careers, but you are also dealing with a lot of stress. These stressors could lead to addiction. Addiction treatment for healthcare professionals can require special consideration and can be challenging for their ongoing recovery due to the high prevalence of stressors and triggers in the healthcare industry.
Stressors for Healthcare Professionals
Many in the healthcare profession feel that what they do is a calling and not just a job. The desire to help others and be of service to those in need can be fulfilling. You might have entered the health profession to show compassion and care for those who struggle.
Healthcare professionals deal with unique stressors in their field that others might not encounter, including:
- Compassion fatigue: You might feel that you no longer have the capacity to help others, lose empathy, or feel like you no longer care about patients.
- Demanding work schedules: In the healthcare field, your facility might be short-staffed, and there is always a need for someone to be available. You might be on-call or have rotating shifts that require you to work weekends, overnight, or holidays. In addition, you might work much longer hours than other jobs and need to come in during inclement weather.
- High levels of burnout: Due to the time and emotional demands of working in healthcare, you might be more vulnerable to burnout than in other professions. Burnout can be challenging to manage, as you might feel that there is no solution but to keep going.
- Being an essential worker: As the pandemic continues, you might find yourself wanting a vacation, but you cannot get any time. You and your colleagues might be pressured to work due to the volume of people getting sick in your community.
- The feeling of duty and obligation: Within the healthcare profession, you might feel a greater sense of duty to serve than in other occupations. What you do for a living significantly impacts the lives of others, and while this feeling can be rewarding, it can also be incredibly overwhelming.
In the helping professions, you might have a stronger resiliency to emotional stress and a greater capacity for compassion for others than most people. However, when you find yourself struggling as the helper, you might feel somewhat disillusioned about who you are. However, when you are the person others rely on, what do you do when you need help?
Signs You Need Addiction Treatment As A Healthcare Professional
Burnout and compassion fatigue can be challenging to manage and identify. You might mask your feelings with denial or substance abuse. Especially during the pandemic, you might not have time for a break or take care of yourself.
When you don’t have the time to take care of your mental or emotional health needs, you might notice some of the following signs that you need help:
- Weight changes, either loss or gain
- Sleeping in and getting to work in a rush
- Staying up late at night
- Increasingly irritable or feeling agitated
- “Snapping” at others for minor things
- Using drugs or alcohol to cope
If you feel like you do not have time to manage your own stress levels, you might be tempted to find a “quick fix.” Drugs and alcohol could be maladaptive ways of coping with stress without putting in much time or effort. If you work in a hospital, personal care home, skilled nursing facility, group home, or doctor’s office, you might even have access to narcotics and psychotropic medications that others do not.
Substance Abuse and Healthcare Professionals
Healthcare professionals might have more opportunities to get drugs than the general population. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), “Many [healthcare professionals] have easy access to controlled substance medications; and some will divert and abuse these drugs for reasons such as relief from stress, self-medication, or to improve work performance and alertness.”
No one intends to get addicted to drugs or alcohol. You might think, “This is just a temporary fix to this situation. Once things go back to normal, I can quit.” Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol don’t work this way. When you start misusing or abusing substances to manage stress, your brain’s reward system can change, and you can develop a high tolerance for substances.
The longer you use drugs and alcohol to cope with stressors of the healthcare profession, the more challenging it will be to quit. When you develop an addiction, you might need to enter addiction treatment to get better.
Addiction Treatment for Healthcare Professionals in South Florida
Healthcare professionals are essential workers, and many feel a high sense of duty calling them to sacrifice parts of their own lives to care for others. However, you might need to take a step back and take care of yourself before you can be of service to others. At Ambrosia Treatment Center in Palm Beach County, Florida, we understand the unique challenges facing healthcare professionals today. We offer customized addiction treatment for healthcare professionals. Call us today or visit our admissions page to learn more.