Healthcare workers are unsung heroes and stand on the front lines to save those in life and death situations. They put their own lives on the line to protect their communities. There is a personal cost to this heroism. According to USA Today, workers in the healthcare industry account for the highest rates of addiction in the American workforce. A recent study showed that more than 100,000 doctors, nurses, technicians, and other healthcare professionals struggle with abuse or addiction.
The most common drugs abused by medical professionals are oxycodone and fentanyl. Alcohol, other prescription drugs, and illegal substances are also abused daily. A 2013 study by the University of Florida reported that 10 to 15% of doctors suffer from a substance abuse disorder at some point in their careers. These statistics have numerous underlying causes. So, why exactly are these medical professionals accounting for such high rates of addiction? To correctly answer this question, we need to look at the occupation itself.
Addiction and Medical Workers
The shifts for those in the healthcare industry are longer and more strenuous than most professions. Many healthcare workers are scheduled for 12 to 16-hour shifts, without any sort of consistency or routine. The break in between shifts is also not sufficient to get needed rest and replenishment for the mind and body. The timing alone of the shifts can cause nurses, techs, and doctors to seek some “help” from a substance.
They might need help in staying awake or going to sleep fast enough to catch up on rest before their next shift starts. Healthcare workers can turn to stimulants to help them stay awake during their long grueling shifts. They may also experience aches and pains due to such long hours on their feet and seek medication for their pain. In an attempt to help their body recover so they can perform during their next shift, repeating this over and over again, substance addiction is born.
Medical workers are exposed to traumatic injuries and life and death situations daily. Being responsible not only for your well-being but for saving the lives of those within the community can put a serious burden on a person’s psyche. Even on their best day, the worst can still happen and exhaustion and guilt can take a toll. Triggers and stress from work are a leading cause of drinking and drug use for many people, and this is only magnified in healthcare. The easy access to various drugs combined with mental and physical stress is a perfect storm for addiction.
Helping Drug Addicted Medical Workers
Medical professionals are highly respected and trusted, as they should be, however, this can make it more difficult for them to get help. Due to their easy access and the respect or authority their position brings them, it might be hard for the addict to admit to a problem. Following are some of the signs that a coworker or loved one might be struggling: requesting shifts with less supervision (night shifts), Incomplete charting or repeated errors in paperwork, taking frequent bathroom breaks or unexplained absences, requesting to be assigned in areas with more access to various types of medication, falling asleep while on the clock, slurred speech, smelling of alcohol or mouthwash, errors in clinical duties.
Those suffering from addiction might also become belligerent or verbally abusive within the workplace. Drugs can create a sense of superiority or arrogance, making the addict feel above the law. They will typically attempt to keep their addictive behaviors under the radar but eventually will start to show signs that something is awry. This is not only dangerous for the addict but also for the patients and the medical facilities.
Drug Detox for Medical Professionals
It is in the best interest of the medical worker, their employer, and their patients, for addicted healthcare professionals to seek help as soon as possible. Providing medical care either while under the influence or struggling to stay sober is extremely risky for all parties. Allure Detox in West Palm Beach is the ideal place for a healthcare worker to seek treatment. While the healthcare industry has become very proactive and supportive in getting people to help, the addict can receive 100% confidential treatment with us. Our staff and counselors are trained professionals that specialize in alcohol and drug addiction treatment.
We sympathize with medical workers struggling with substance abuse and provide safe and compassionate care. If you or a loved one are experiencing the pain of addiction while trying to maintain your position in the medical field, please reach out to us at Allure Detox. We understand and can help the addict get safely through detox. We provide a recovery plan after treatment so the medical professional can continue caring for others, recovered and sober.