Caring for other people is not just a job, it is a calling. Unlike other some other types of work, healthcare is a profession that demands a great deal from those that enter into the field. In fact, health care workers experience higher rates of injuries, illness, and burn out than people in most other fields. It is no wonder then that health care workers also have some of the highest rates of addiction, depression, and anxiety disorders. Ambrosia Treatment Center in both West Palm and Jupiter, Florida specialize in addiction treatment for healthcare professionals.
According to USA Today, “Across the country, more than 100,000 doctors, nurses, technicians, and other health professionals struggle with abuse or addiction, mostly involving narcotics such as Oxycodone and Fentanyl.” Medical professionals have the highest rate of addiction out of all other professionals. With more than 100,000 doctors in the United States suffering from drug abuse, abusing narcotics such as oxycodone or fentanyl, timely treatment is vital for both the physician and their patients.
Stress and Addiction in Health Care Professionals
Healthcare is an inherently stressful calling. The duty for patients’ health and well-being is a tremendous responsibility. In addition to the personal accountability that many health care workers feel, there are legal and professional risks if anything should go wrong. These issues, among others, can lead many in healthcare to develop extreme anxiety and tension.
Burnout, stress, and anxiety all make health care workers vulnerable to addiction — especially to opioids or anti-anxiety medications like Xanax. Like so many professionals with addictions, medical professionals may have a wide range of reasons to turn to drugs or alcohol. They may be looking for a means to stay awake on an all-day or overnight shift or a way of escaping the stress of a day of hard decisions and upsetting outcomes.
Other factors that can contribute to stress in health care professionals:
- Shift work and long irregular hours
- Personal health and safety risk; exposure to pathogens and other hazards
- Physical demands of the job
- The complexity of insurance requirements
- Low staff-to-patient ratios
- Burnout from overwork
Warning Signs of Addiction
Healthcare comes with its own unique problems, when it comes to addiction. Because doctors and nurses have extensive pharmacological training, they may be more prone to denial about their addiction because they understand the limits and risks of their substance use. Additionally, colleagues in the field may be reluctant to file or report, which can perpetuate drug or alcohol use.
Knowing the warning signs of addiction can help you or someone you care about get the help you need. Here are just a few warming signs of a substance abuse problem in health care employees:
- Noticeable changes in job performance. This can include too many mistakes when charting or marking certain drugs as wasted more frequently.
- Increased number of complaints from co-workers, staff, or patients.
- Failure to show up for appointments or meetings.
- Changing jobs frequently
- Preferring night shifts where there is less supervision and more access to medication
- Working extra shifts or longer hours in order to pay for their habit or have access to the drug room
- Erratic behavior or mood swings.
- Wearing inappropriate clothing for the time of year or environment. For instance, wearing long sleeves in the middle of the summer, or dark sunglasses indoors.
- Spending too much time in the bathroom
- Volunteering often to administer narcotics to patients.
- Glassy eyes or small pupils
The Effects Of Addiction In the Medical Workplace
Doctors and nurses suffering from addiction are not only putting their own health at risk but also the wellbeing of patients in their care. An addicted medical professional is more likely than their non-addicted colleagues to cause an accident in the workplace or neglect patients’ health. They may be distracted on the job or abruptly leave important appointments or surgical procedures to use drugs. This can lead to seriously dangerous outcomes for patients.
“Sometimes I’d be standing in the operating room and it’d look like I had the flu. So I’d excuse myself and I’d run into the bathroom, eat 10 [Tylenols with codeine], and in maybe five or 10 minutes I’d be normal again.”
– Richard Ready, former chief resident of neurosurgery at a prominent Chicago hospital, LA Times
Challenges to Recovery for Health Care Professionals
There are a number of challenges for health care professionals who need to get clean or sober. For many addicts there is a great deal of shame that accompanies recognizing addiction. For someone in the healthcare field this is especially true. In addition to feelings of shame or remorse, there are potential legal and licensing issues that someone in the healthcare field may be worried about. But perhaps one of the biggest challenges for someone in healthcare seeking help with their addiction is being able to find time to balance professional and personal needs.
Treatment Options for Health Care Professionals
While many health care professionals may be concerned about seeking addiction treatment because they feel it may be detrimental to their careers, avoiding critical recovery is much riskier. The sooner that you get help for your addiction the greater the chances of restoring health in both body and mind, and reducing the risk of serious damage to your career.
While doctors, physician assistants, and nurses have a high addiction rate, this group also has a high rate of recovery when they obtain professional inpatient addiction rehabilitation treatment.
The addiction recovery community knows that treatment for those in healthcare requires specialized focus on the distinct needs of people in the field. Treatment is provided by understanding and compassionate specialists, in a confidential and supportive environment.
Recovery plans for health care professionals include:
- Drug refusal skills
- Improve coping strategies and communication skills
- Positive work environment modification
- Occupation-specific interventions
- Management of drug access
- Intensive personal counseling
- Peer support
- Stress reduction education
- Comprehensive aftercare support
Outpatient Rehab for Healthcare Professionals
An integral part of recovery is post-treatment via outpatient programs to both help monitor and provide the support you need to stay sober. Post-treatment programs are more than a support system because you’ll receive advocacy. And treatment is always confidential and separate from any medical licensure and credentialing bodies. Ambrosia’s doctors clients receive continued assistance through recovery, which has shown to prevent relapse. Combining drug management plus long-term contingency contracting is the gold standard in addiction care for doctors. This can make it possible for medical professionals to continue a medical career while often handling the same commonly abused drugs that have led to their addiction. You may think of it much like how recovering alcoholics join friends and family at a celebration with alcohol served but abstain from drinking any alcohol themselves.
While many doctors may be concerned, even afraid of seeking addiction treatment because they feel it may be detrimental to their careers, avoiding critical recovery is much riskier. Where drug abuse leads to ever-rising tolerance levels, more alcohol and increasing doses of the abused drugs must be taken to achieve the same effects and ward off withdrawal symptoms. Not only will this become noticeable, but the impairments will grow to where an increased risk of failing to perform effectively while under the influence will result in medical malpractice and disciplinary proceedings against one’s medical license.
Rehab for Health Care Professionals in West Palm, Florida
Ambrosia Treatment Center offers private customized medical professionals evidence-based addiction programs focused on mental health & substance abuse treatment. We know how to help medical professionals recover their professional and personal lives. Ambrosia Treatment Center in West Palm, FL offers world-class treatment modalities with:
- 5-Star facilities w/ Amenities & Pool
- Hotel-like rooms with ensuite bathroom
- Add-ons such as Massage Therapy
- Comprehensive Family Therapy
- One-on-one & Life Coach Therapy
- Outing to Gym / Beach (COVID permitting)
- Phone & Laptop Privileges w/ primary therapist approval
As a health care professional, you are an important part of your community. Taking care of your needs ensures that you will be able to continue helping the people who depend on you. Recovery is possible and Ambrosia’s world-class team of addiction recovery specialists are here to support you. If you are concerned about your own substance abuse, or a loved one’s, contact us today to find out more about our treatment options for health care professionals.
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