Drug & Alcohol Rehab for Dentists Near You

About The Contributor
Courtney Barber, MHC
Courtney Barber, MHC
Author, American Addiction Centers
Courtney Barber holds an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a BA in Health Arts and Sciences, both from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. Courtney began her career in women’s health as a childbirth assistant and postpartum doula. She studied traditional healing and midwifery practices in Tepoztlan, Mexico and has a background in complementary […] Read More

Substance use disorders (SUDs) impact people of all ages, socioeconomic classes, educational backgrounds, races, and cultural backgrounds – including healthcare providers, such as dentists.1,2 This page will provide you with information regarding substance abuse in the dental industry as well as alcohol and drug rehab for dentists.

If you or a loved one are in the field of dentistry and need help understanding substance misuse and substance abuse treatment, remember that you are not alone. American Addiction Centers can help you or your loved one recover from a substance use disorder in any one of our world class treatment centers across the nation.

Substance Use Disorders & Dentists

A substance use disorder is characterized by a problematic pattern of alcohol or drug use that leads to significant impairment or distress through negative consequences. To be diagnosed with an SUD, an individual must experience at least two of the following criteria during a 12-month period:3

  • Consuming larger amounts of the substance than intended or consuming substances over a longer period than was planned.
  • A persistent desire to decrease or control substance use with no success.
  • Lots of time is spent seeking the substance, using the substance, or recovering from the effects of the substance.
  • Strong cravings for the substance.
  • Recurrent substance use resulting in failure to fulfill important obligations at school, work, or home.
  • Substance use even though it causes recurring interpersonal problems or social problems related to use.
  • Giving up meaningful social, work, or leisure activities because of substance use.
  • Recurrent substance use in physically dangerous situations or settings.
  • Continued substance use despite knowing that an ongoing physical or psychological problem is likely caused or worsened because of the substance use.
  • Tolerance, defined by one of the following:
    • Increasing need for higher amounts of the substance to achieve the desired effect
    • Notably diminished effects from continued use of the substance, although using the same amount said substance.
    • Withdrawal, defined by:
    • Withdrawal syndrome symptoms
    • Use of another or closely related substance to cope with or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

SUDs are classified by severity depending on the number of criteria met and may be considered mild, moderate, or severe.3 For healthcare providers like dentists, even a mild SUD can affect their professional ability to provide care (and thus potentially negatively impact the safety of patients).2

Stressors related to work in the healthcare field may create vulnerability for dentists to develop substance use disorders as a maladaptive way of coping with stress.4 Finding work-life balance can be difficult for dental providers who run a private practice.4 In the next section, we will discuss more of the research on substance abuse among dentists.

Causes & Risk Factors

There is currently no one identified factor that can predict whether a dentist (or any person) will become addicted to drugs or alcohol. However, influences such as genetics and environmental factors can elevate your risk of developing an SUD. Some environmental triggers for developing an SUD might include being raised with substance use in the home or living in a community that has high rates of substance use.4 However, it is important to remember that addiction is a treatable illness.4

The profession of dentistry presents some of the same risk factors that have been linked to problematic alcohol use in physicians which significantly increases the risk of physicians developing a substance use disorder vs. the general population. Like a physician’s medical practice, dentistry is physically, mentally, and socially demanding and may lead to symptoms of burnout.6 Research has shown a link between burnout, substance use, and mental health issues in phyisicans.4

When it comes to burnout among dentists, research suggests specific stressors that may contribute to burnout, such as:4

  • Time constraints and patient scheduling issues.
  • Excessive workload.
  • Challenging and anxious patients.
  • Administrative stressors.
  • Limited or poor managerial support.
  • Excessive workload.
  • Staffing issues.

Take Our Substance Use Disorder Self-Assessment

Take our free, 5-minute self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with drug addiction. The evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are intended to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result.

Substance Abuse Treatment for Dentists

Rehab treatment programs can be beneficial in helping someone recover from drug or alcohol abuse as well as co-occurring mental health conditions. Various treatment options are available and some addiction treatment centers offer treatment tracks specifically for healthcare providers such as dentists. Your treatment needs may vary based on the severity and other characteristics of your substance use disorder as well as your individual healthcare needs.

  • Detox: In a medical detox, medications and treatment for withdrawal symptoms may be provided.7 Detoxification is an important first step for many in treatment for a substance use disorder, but it only clears the body of substances of abuse and does not address the reasons behind a person’s substance use.7
  • Inpatient treatment: Substance abuse treatment programs may be offered in a 24-hour a day inpatient or residential setting for those who need a high level of supervision and safe, medically managed care.8 Evaluation, treatment, and medical supervision are all provided.8
  • Outpatient rehab: Outpatient rehab programs can deliver the same services as inpatient rehab, including assessment, treatment, counseling, psycho-education, and community resources but do so in a day treatment or part-time treatment setting.8 Patients can live at home and may be able to continue work or school during rehab.

Note that AAC’s Greenhouse Treatment Center, River Oaks, and Recovery First all offer a rehab track specifically for healthcare professionals.

Find out if rehab is covered by your insurance provider.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Substance Abuse in Dentistry

Sources:

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019, October). Understanding addiction.
  2. American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2020, February 6). Public policy statement on physicians and other healthcare professionals with addiction.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, July 2). The science of drug use and addiction: the basics.
  4. Claytor, J. W. (2021, October 11). Substance use disorders among dentists. Journal of Multidisciplinary Care Decisions in Dentistry, 7(10), 32-35.
  5. Bush DM, Lipari RN. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US). (2015) Substance Use and Substance Use Disorder by Industry. 
  6. Pradhan, M., Patil, S. N., Kokane, V. B., Mokhade, V., & Uttarwar, V. (2020, June 20). Burnout syndrome in dental profession. IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences, 19(6), 30-37.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, January 17). Treatment approaches for drug addiction drugfacts.
  8. New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports. (n.d.). Types of treatment; Inpatient rehabilitation.
  9. Oregon Board of Dentistry. (2022). Confidential Drug and Monitoring Program.
  10. Story, J. & Solberg, D. (2017, March-April). Barriers to mental illness and substance abuse treatment among physicians and the impact on patient care. Missouri Medicine, 114(2), 91-92.
  11. U.S. Department of Labor. (n.d.). Family and medical leave act.
  12. Winkler, A. (2017). Treating physicians for addiction. American Journal of Psychiatry Residents, 12(4), 6-7.
  13. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Principles of drug addiction treatment: a research-based guide: How long does drug treatment usually last?
Last Updated on September 14, 2022
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About The Contributor
Courtney Barber, MHC
Courtney Barber, MHC
Author, American Addiction Centers
Courtney Barber holds an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and a BA in Health Arts and Sciences, both from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. Courtney began her career in women’s health as a childbirth assistant and postpartum doula. She studied traditional healing and midwifery practices in Tepoztlan, Mexico and has a background in complementary […] Read More
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