Medical professionals like physicians, nurses, and health aids often suffer from a lot of stress due to their line of work.
They have a lot of weight on their shoulders, including the lives of their patients. These stressors could make anyone feel overwhelmed. This is part of the reason why substance abuse in medical professionals is so common.
Prevalence of Substance Abuse Among Healthcare Providers
Substance abuse in medical professionals is more common than you may think. The general rate of substance abuse in the medical field is not that different from the rate of substance abuse among the general population. It’s estimated that 10% to 15% of healthcare providers will misuse drugs or alcohol at some point in their career. Prescription opioid abuse is a particularly large problem among these medical professionals. Many healthcare workers suffer from conditions like depression and addiction, which is alarming. These are the individuals that are licensed and trained to administer care to others; however, their careers do not mean they’re invincible or superhuman.
At Banyan Treatment Centers, we offer an executive rehab program that caters to professionals and people who are heavily invested in their careers. Medical professionals with substance abuse disorders can receive safe and effective treatment at our rehab center in Florida.
Addiction In the Medical Field: Why Does It Happen?
As a drug and alcohol treatment center in Pompano Beach, we know that many people begin abusing drugs and alcohol to cope with stress. Addiction also doesn’t discriminate. “But shouldn’t medical professionals know better?” you may wonder. They do, but they’re also human, and high levels of stress and responsibilities can make even the most patient people feel cornered. Below are a few general reasons why substance abuse among medical professionals is common.
Medical professionals often struggle to catch up with sleep as a result of working hours, covering extra shifts, and being on call in case of an emergency. When it comes to nursing, for example, nurses usually work a few 12-hour shifts per week. While it may seem like they have a few days off to rest, they have to adjust their sleep schedules according to their work schedule. Those with children may struggle with this especially. Sleep deprivation can prevent an individual from staying alert and functioning to the best of their ability, two characteristics that are crucial when working in the medical field. They may begin to take drugs that help them stay awake and alert, which can lead to dependency.
Stress Caused by Constant Exposure to Illness and Death
Not only is the risk of getting sick stressful, but witnessing the death of another person is traumatic. Many healthcare professionals deal with these two stressors regularly. This can take a mental and emotional toll on a person, making it difficult for them to enjoy their lives even outside of work. They may then begin using drugs to boost their spirits.
Balancing Responsibilities at Work and Home
In addition to their responsibilities at work, doctors, nurses, and physicians also have to take care of their obligations at home. It can be difficult to balance your work and home duties. Taking care of children when you’re tired from a 12-hour shift you just finished can be rough. A person in this situation may feel the need to come home and drink a cup of wine or more to relax. This can quickly become a habit and they may become dependent on this substance in order to feel good outside of work.
Easy Access to Drugs
Another major contributing factor to substance abuse in medical professionals is the easy access they have to drugs. Healthcare professionals manage a variety of prescription drugs that can be dangerous when taken without a prescription. A doctor or nurse may easily be able to obtain these medications due to their line of work.
None of this information implies that health care providers can’t be trusted. It’s important to understand that addiction can happen to anyone and everyone it does affect may not realize they have a problem until they’ve hit rock bottom. The fact that addiction in medical professionals exists at all is a cry for help.