Most people see medical professionals as people who understand the basics of good health and the human body far better than the average man. It is for this reason that people are willing to spend their time and money on getting the opinion from such a person – they are trusted sources of valuable information. Because of their hard-won stature, medical professionals may be seen by some people as the ideal example to follow in regards to how to care for their body. However, their training does not make them superhuman, and the truth is that they are susceptible to the same illnesses and conditions as any other human being, including drug or alcohol addiction.
Drug Use in the Medical Community
The chemicals in drugs are designed to either stimulate the pleasure centers in the brain or suppress unwanted sensations, or both. Whether prescription or illicit, drugs change the normal operation of the human body and can momentarily reduce physical, emotional or psychological pain or discomfort. Perhaps an individual is in physical pain, perhaps they are suffering from low self-esteem, perhaps they are stressed out by a family or work-related problem or perhaps they are experiencing financial difficulties. Whatever the reason, drugs can seem like an easy option to exercise in order to temporarily disconnect from these difficulties. When the effects of the drug wears off and the difficulties remain, the individual may resort to using more drugs, and so the cycle of addiction begins. And even if an individual is part of the medical community, they are not immune to the issue of addiction.
Drug Abuse Amongst Medical Professionals
It is not uncommon for medical professionals to experience work-related stress. Day after day they are caring for others who are in ill health and it can be wearing. However, in addition to the job-related stress that can often drive individuals to use drugs, medical professionals are at increased risk of drug abuse for the following reasons:
– Easy access to prescription drugs
– Regular contact with individuals who are seriously ill or dying
– Long hours
While all medical professionals are susceptible to these factors, there are a few areas of medical practice that have resulted in even higher rates of substance abuse, namely emergency care, psychiatry and anesthesiology.
Doctors and Nurses Hiding Addiction
It is true that many individuals who have become addicted to drugs may feel that they hide their addiction well, especially since they often cannot see for themselves the full effects of their drug use. While many people know when their loved one is addicted, there are some who are very good at hiding their problem with drugs until they have reached the advanced stages of drug addiction. Many medical professionals seem to fall into the latter category.
Some of the key symptoms of drug abuse is a change in the individual’s relationships with others, a lessened interest in certain activities and a decrease in work performance. Medical professionals can often mask these problems by continuing to hold long hours and performing well on the job (likely due to their extensive medical training). Many substance abusers begin to fall behind at work, arrive late to work and take unscheduled leaves of absence from work. Because their workplace is where they obtain the drugs that they are abusing, it is important for medical professionals to continue to arrive on time and perform normally in order to maintain their access to drugs.
While drug abuse always affects the abuser himself as well as his family and friends, drug abuse by a medical professional is far more dangerous as it can potentially adversely affect the patients he cares for as well. Since drugs are known to dull the senses and can often cause irritability or even psychotic breaks, it is hardly safe to have a drug addict performing medical functions on another individual.
Solutions to Drug Treatment for Medical Professionals
Education is always recommended as one of the most effective ways to prevent or treat substance abuse problems. For medical professionals, understanding the risks of abuse in their profession can enable them to be better prepared, as well as be aware of some of the warning signs of substance abuse that may manifest themselves in a co-worker. Medical professionals must be empowered to help prevent substance abuse in their co-workers by being alert and watchful and offering help when needed. Substance abuse can be prevented and resolved amongst medical professionals, but only if it isn’t ignored.