Drug & Alcohol Rehab for Healthcare Professionals Near You

3 min read · 7 sections
Substance abuse impacts many healthcare workers throughout the United States. The nature of healthcare work can sometimes result in immense stress, and anyone is at risk for developing a substance use disorder (SUD). Here’s what you need to know about what a substance use disorder is, how substance use and addiction impact medical professionals, and available addiction treatments for healthcare professionals.

American Addiction Centers offers distinct treatment programs for healthcare workers struggling with substance abuse problems.

Substance Use Disorders & Medical Professionals

Substance use disorders are characterized by continued drinking or drug use behavior despite the adverse consequences that influence several areas of a person’s life.1 The negative impacts of compulsive substance use can impair overall health and result in an inability to fulfill major responsibilities at home, at work, and at school.1 Substance abuse can significantly alter thinking and judgment, potentially diminishing your ability to make effective decisions, which could itself lead to additional health risks such as driving under the influence.2

Despite being held to a certain standard in society, healthcare workers are as prone to developing substance use disorders as non-healthcare workers. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals bear a large responsibility in our public health system. Their ability to make effective, responsible decisions is vital to ensuring patients receive the proper care. The roles and responsibilities of healthcare workers such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, certified nurse assistants, and dentists make optimal cognition a necessary job requirement. Impaired judgment and poor decision-making can jeopardize a patient’s comfort levels and safety. It can also impact a healthcare worker’s employment.

As you will learn, cognitive decline such as poor judgment, difficulty concentrating, and impaired memory are potential signs of substance abuse-related impairment in healthcare professionals.3

Statistics on Substance Abuse in Healthcare

Healthcare workers are just as likely to develop a substance use disorder as workers in any other industry. However, some may argue that healthcare workers face an increased amount of stress and pressure, given continued stressors related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the everyday stressors of working in a high-pressure and demanding field.

A 2015 report from the Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration showed that, within the timeframe of study:4

  • 7% of full-time healthcare workers from 18–64 years met criteria for a substance use disorder within the prior year.
  • 5% of healthcare workers had used illicit drugs in the prior month.
  • 4% of full-time healthcare workers from 18–64 years old reported heavy alcohol consumption in the month prior to surveying.

The impact of COVID-19 has yet to be fully understood. As time passes and more research is done, we will have a greater understanding of how this pandemic has impacted substance abuse among healthcare workers.

Signs of Substance Abuse in Healthcare Professionals

Addiction presents differently in each person. The consequences of addiction that you experience may vary from other people’s. There are certain telltale behaviors that might point to substance abuse in healthcare professionals, including:3

  • Excessive absenteeism, frequent missed days, and the use of many sick days.
  • Spending a large amount of time near the drug supply.
  • Volunteering for extra hours and shifts.
  • Becoming unreliable (failure to meet deadlines and keep appointments, etc.).
  • Poor focus, poor judgment, and difficulty making rational decisions.
  • Poor productivity (or excessive productivity).
  • Sloppy reporting of drug supply and drug shortages.
  • Relationships with co-workers and patients are declining.
  • Inappropriate dosages and large orders for drugs.
  • Declining personal hygiene.
  • Wearing long sleeves in inappropriate situations (summertime).
  • Changes in behavior, personality, and attitude.
  • Anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
  • Insisting on personally administering medication to patients.
  • Cognitive decline that includes memory loss and confusion.
  • Frequently disappearing from the job site.

If you notice any of these signs in your loved one or coworker, a conversation may be necessary. Eventually, if other measures do not work, an intervention may be necessary to help someone understand that others recognize that their substance abuse is affecting their life.

Causes & Risk Factors

There are a number of factors that may contribute to the development of addiction and substance abuse in general. These factors include:5

For medical professionals, additional risk factors may include:3

  • Accessibility of controlled substances.
  • Pressure to improve work performance.
  • Need to increase alertness.
  • Desire for relief from stress and occupational pressure.

Co-occurring disorders refers to when someone suffers from multiple mental health conditions simultaneously, such as a mental health disorder (anxiety, depression, PTSD, schizophrenia) and an SUD.5 While more research is needed to determine the prevalence of co-occurring disorders among medical professionals, the presence of both a substance use disorder and mental health disorder is common. Research indicates that half of those who experience an SUD will also develop a mental illness and that SUDs can contribute to the development of mental illness and vice versa.5

Many healthcare workers work directly with patients and experience stress related to caring for these patients. Due to the nature of healthcare work, their positions may sometimes unfortunately subject them to traumatic experiences. Research shows that the prevalence of PTSD among healthcare workers is much higher than in the general population.6 As previously mentioned, PTSD and other mental health disorders can be a risk factor for developing a substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder.

Treatment Programs for Healthcare Professionals

Substance abuse treatment programs for healthcare professionals can be highly effective in helping someone recover from drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health conditions. There are many different types of treatment available for healthcare professionals, as well as many different substance abuse therapy types. Many treatment providers offer specific programs or tracks for licensed medical professionals, such as AAC’s Greenhouse Recovery Center. There are several treatment options available for medical workers suffering from SUD, including:7

  • Detoxification. This treatment type refers to the process in which substances are allowed to clear from the body and withdrawal symptoms are managed by medical professionals, usually within a treatment or medical facility. Detox is not a substitute for more thorough substance abuse treatment, but rather the first step in a longer process of recovery.
  • Inpatient/residential treatment. These settings for treatment encompass relatively intensive rehabilitation efforts that continue beyond successful detox and can be short-term or long-term in nature. The focus is on intensive counseling and preparation for living a substance-free life after treatment. Inpatient treatment provides 24-hour professional care, 7 days a week in a licensed treatment facility.
  • Outpatient treatment. Various levels of outpatient care are available for those who are unable to access or otherwise do not require more intensive inpatient or residential treatment. Some people progress through or “step down” to outpatient rehab treatment following completion of an inpatient program, though it also represents the initial treatment setting for many. This form of treatment can start off as intensive and then lessen in intensity over time; it usually involves individual, group, and family therapy.
  • Physicians and treatment providers may use different types of medications to aid in patients’ recovery from addiction. For example, many forms of medication-assisted treatment are approved by the FDA to aid in someone’s recovery from certain substance addictions. Other medications can help treat any co-occurring mental health issues present in people with substance use disorders.
  • Behavioral counseling. Behavioral counseling can help patients modify their attitudes toward drug use and abuse, increase healthy coping skills, and support patients through other forms of treatment, like medication treatments.
  • Long-Term Follow Up. Long-term follow up, often called “aftercare” or continuing care, aids in encouraging long-term recovery. Long-term follow up can decrease instances of relapse and provide ongoing support for those in recovery from substance use disorders.

Keep in mind that rehab duration may vary between providers and is dependent on your needs, your insurance benefits (if you use insurance benefits to pay for rehabs) and much more.

FAQs Regarding Rehab for Healthcare Professionals:

Ways to Get in Contact With Us

If you believe you or someone you love may be struggling with addiction, let us hear your story and help you determine a path to treatment.

There are a variety of confidential, free, and no obligation ways to get in contact with us to learn more about treatment.

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