Doctors are trained to be decisive, to work under huge amounts of pressure and are generally treated with great respect. Their work is, quite literally, often a matter of life and death. For these reasons, and probably many more, doctors who find themselves in the grip of an addiction may find it difficult if not impossible to ask for help ñ even though they may treat addicts every day of their working lives doctors may not realize the situation they are in nor that a real addict has no hope of helping themselves.
However research with Physician Health Programs has shown that doctors addicted to alcohol or other drugs can experience both successful treatment and a subsequent return to their career.
It has been found that the Physician Health Programs are an effective alternative to punishment. In short – treatment works. When a doctor is also an addict there may be special considerations to be taken into account and the Physician Health Programs aim to do just that.
Protection of the public is a major concern when any practicing doctor is found to be addicted in any way. Therefore any rehabilitation program must also have an excellent follow-up recovery program; doctors found to be non-compliant with their program should be excluded from practicing medicine.
As with any addict a doctor will need a holistic approach to the treatment of their addiction with both group and individual group therapy, reliance on and links to relevant 12-step programs, treatment as an in-patient at a residential facility as well as follow up treatment as an outpatient. It is well known that many addictions are linked to other health problems, in particular mental health issues such as depression. Any care the addicted doctor receives should include dealing with those problems as well as any medical condition which may be the result of the addiction.
It appears that drug problems amongst doctors are related to their medical specialty which may give them ease of access to their drug of choice. When enrolled in the Physician Health Programs more than 75% of doctors were able to remain drug-free for at least 5 years. Uniquely, perhaps, the importance of work-place testing and frequent spot checks for doctors who are addicts cannot be underestimated. It is also important that those doctors in recovery from addiction fully understand the consequences of any relapse ñ swift action must be taken if the monitoring reveals any substance abuse. Under the Physicians Health Program doctors are expected to remain alcohol and drug free for at least five years.
Much resistance may initially be found amongst doctors who do not believe they are addicted nor that they require treatment; however with the right support and treatment the patient-doctors should begin to realize the true nature of their addiction and its consequences. It seems that the key to success when dealing with recovery from addiction is long-term treatment ñ even when programs employ multiple therapists and methods it is the longevity of that treatment which produces the best results.
For more information, go to Treatment Centers