It’s no secret that the health profession is a highly stressful field. Stress in medical practice has always been a well-discussed and thoroughly researched. The medical profession, whether you’re a nurse, a physician’s assistant, a doctor, or any other professional in the field, involves taking care of other peoples’ lives; mistakes or errors could be costly and sometimes irreversible. There is a lot of pressure that a doctor must be in a perfect state of mind devoid of worries and anxieties. This is unrealistic of course because the doctor, apart from being affected by the same variables that every human ensures, is also prone to stress because of the extraordinary work situation and the expectation of the society at large. This often leads to drug addiction in the medical profession.
That’s not to say that the medical profession suffers a significantly larger drug abuse problem than other professions. Doctors and other health care workers are addicted to drugs in the same proportion as the general population, around 10 to 14 percent. However, it is important to note that among medical professionals, it is emergency room workers, anesthesiologists, and psychiatrists who are much more likely to abuse drugs; likely due to the high stress situation they often find themselves in due to the nature of their jobs.
How do professionals who have dedicated their lives to medicine and health become addicted? When you take a step back, it’s no different than any other demographic. The first reason is the easy access that these people have to opiates, pain killers and other drugs. While there may be some who can write a script to get access, others may simply steal medication for their own use while they’re on the job.
Another reason is the nature of the job itself. Long hours and harsh demands in the field make performance requirements almost impossible. Lack of sleep or utter exhaustion drive many to abuse drugs so that they may perform their jobs better.
Addicted medical professionals, regardless of what role they are in, fear losing their jobs if they seek help, since their addiction can directly impact patient health. Drug addiction is a breach of professional ethics, places patients at risk, and can affect the reputations of the facilities where they work. Nurses can be particularly hard on themselves and colleagues who may be addicted. The stigma that addiction is a moral failure, rather than a disease, prevents nurses and other medical professionals from seeking help. It deters facilities from providing adequate support programs for addicted and recovering nurses, and ultimately puts patients at risk.
The growing number of Americans with a friend, family member or neighbor affected by heroin or prescription opioid abuse has inspired lawmakers and law enforcement officials to move toward treatment and away from punitive measures such as incarceration. However, medical professionals still risk losing their license to practice and are hesitant to reach out for help. Even worse, coworkers who see signs of addiction are hesitant to turn in their coworkers who need help. Some health care workers have even lost their lives to their drug addiction because the people who saw the signs and symptoms of their drug use refused to get involved.
Drug addiction in the medical profession will continue to be an issue until people feel they have a safe place to turn to get help for their addictions.
If you’re a health professional struggling with addiction, contact Scottsdale Recovery Center now to get the help you need. For over a decade, Scottsdale Recovery Center has offered an acclaimed recovery environment that merges upscale and luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare, providing “The Gold Standard in Care” with the Joint Commission Accreditation.
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