Health Professional Recovery
Physician impairment is the inability to practice according to accepted standards due to medical or psychiatric issues, the most prevalent of which is substance use disorder. In the US, the prevalence of substance use disorder amongst physicians is similar to the general population, estimated at 8-13%. While alcohol is the substance of choice amongst physicians, other substances such as opioids, marijuana, cocaine, other sedatives, amphetamines, and inhalants have been reported as physicians' drug of choice in a retrospective study of physician records.
How do our treatment providers help Health Professionals Recover?
Treatment begins through recognition of the issue. Often, reporting colleagues and friends is difficult, and research has shown that fellow physicians are reluctant to report. Once determined, physicians with active substance use disorder often enter treatment of their own volition or after receiving feedback from family members or colleagues.
Others may resist acknowledgment of the problem, which is often seen in more severe cases. In such cases, intervention by the physician's coworkers, friends, staff, and family should be conducted to help coerce the physician towards professional help.
This is done by presenting facts to raise awareness, lessening denial, and providing motivation for change to help guide the physician towards treatment while being sensitive to their profession, employment, licensure, and desire for anonymity. While proceeding with interventions like these may result in anger, resentment, or even legal action by the physician, these negative feelings are often replaced by gratitude after treatment and recovery are complete.
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