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How Healthcare Professionals Become Addicted To Substances (and How to Get Help)

How Healthcare Professionals Become Addicted To Substances (and How to Get Help)

Culture shapes belief about how to behave and what to do in society, work, and at play. At work, each profession tends to have an interior culture, shaped by all the employees and supervisors, clients, and other factors that make it what it is. Healthcare professionals generally have a culture of working long hours because the business of serving those in need of medical attention is never ending. Substance abuse tends to be higher for this profession because of long hours, stress, and interaction with difficult circumstances many others might not encounter.

The Challenge of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a progressive, and potentially fatal, problem that affects millions of people across the United States. Over time, a person’s work, home, and social life can be impacted, causing legal, personal, and health problems. Substance abuse does not discriminate on age, demographics, or profession. Healthcare workers are often on the frontlines dealing with people who struggle with addiction, which makes it a challenge to figure out why they are also battling substance abuse in greater numbers, including:

  • Nurses
  • Pharmacists
  • Clinical and lab technicians
  • Dentists
  • Therapists
  • Emergency medical professionals
  • Anesthesiologists

Nurses who are particularly susceptible to develop substance abuse issues include those who work within an emergency, intensive care room, and cancer unit with patients. Some of the reasons why people in healthcare settings become addicted to substances varies, but mostly has to do with high-risk procedures, long work hours, and making life-or-death decisions for patients on a daily basis. Health care professionals often work in an environment where prescription medication is seen as a panacea, an effective way to deal with people’s pain. This, plus accessibility, makes it a challenge for people who may be on the edge of struggling with their work.

Identifying Substance Abuse

People who are struggling with substance abuse issues in the healthcare profession may have some of the same signs as anyone else. However, they can access drugs from work, or colleagues with access, so it helps to know what to look for in case healthcare workers are struggling with substance abuse on the job:

  • Mood swings
  • Failure to follow established patient protocols of care
  • Frequent use of the restroom
  • Transferring to late shifts or isolated areas
  • Showing up at the hospital at odd times or on odd days
  • Erratic or irrational behavior and thought patterns
  • Increasingly putting patients and even co-workers at risk with behavior at work

Treatment and Recovery

Detoxification is a powerful step to take in any treatment regimen for recovery from addiction. The process of eliminating substances from the body while managing withdrawal symptoms is key to supporting a person in recovery. The first step in addiction treatment is always detox because the substance must be eradicated to stabilize the mind and body. The more effectively these symptoms can be monitored, the safer and more successful detox will be. Effective detox for substance abuse may look like:

  • Helping a healthcare worker enter a rehab program with detox for their addiction
  • Providing a safe, secure space to experience medically supervised detox with people who are compassionate and gracious
  • Developing a longer-term program of rehab and recovery
  • Supporting aftercare and re-entry for healthcare professionals which may include dealing with licensing boards, complying with a monitoring plan, documenting detox and rehab work, drug tests, and any other restrictions as necessary per each individual case

Serenity Detox provides excellent, supervised detox to support withdrawal in a safe environment. We emphasize a person’s individual goals and work to help achieve a high standard of care for people in our programs. Our goal is to support healthcare workers in returning to their line of work, in recovery, and with support to help them be successful for the long haul.

Let us help you recover from addiction and seek the resources you need to keep you clean and sober. Our detox programs and other services can be designed with your individual circumstances and unique situation in mind. Call us 24/7 at our toll-free number to get started: 866-294-9401