Why Do Doctors Struggle with Addiction?

Why Do Doctors Struggle with Addiction?

Doctors struggle with drug and alcohol addictions at similar or higher rates than the general population. They are exposed to many of the same risk factors for addiction and mental health disorders like childhood trauma, anxiety, and depression. These issues may be compounded by the stress of their profession, along with access to medication and drugs. Find out more about why doctors wrestle with addiction and what it means for them to find healing.

Demands of School

American medical students are susceptible to addiction more than most students. They abuse alcohol, benzodiazepines, and prescription opiates at a higher rate because of the demands of preparing for a medical career. When they spend four years studying, combined with four years of medical school and a three-year residency, this translates to long hours and pressure to compete. Some programs have a culture that endorses substance abuse as a way to cope with stress.

Longer Workdays

Being a doctor requires long workdays and rush trips to hospital. In addition to being mentally and physically exhausting, the long work weeks interfere with family time, recreation, and self-care. They suffer from an increased risk of heart disease, depression, and other illnesses due to many factors attributed to their long work days.

Caring for Patients

Patient care is rewarding, but also draining. Some doctors deal with death and loss on a regular basis, depending on their career path. Unexpected outcomes, inability to find a diagnosis, failure to relieve pain, and treating demanding patients or those who are violent can become a source of anxiety and depression. Very few physicians receive adequate training to manage stressful patient care issues.

General Stress

Chronic stress brought on by the job demand, heavy patient loads, and lack of emotional support, can increase the risk of addiction. Most doctors deny using drugs or alcohol to self-medication. It would be understandable for doctors with a predisposition for addiction to use substances in order to relieve stress or manage emotions.

On the other hand, addictive substances are right at their fingertips so much of the time being in hospitals, pharmacies, and clinics. Addictive substances are not only available, but they may go unnoticed for a long time if a doctor is self-medicating. The rate of prescription drug abuse is higher among doctors than the general population and substance abuse rates go up even higher for anesthesiologists who work with a variety of potent medications.

The Palmetto Center helps people who are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol regain control of their lives. Our community support provides structure while trained counselors offer life skills training and therapeutic techniques to help you move past addiction. Our program provides special focus for professionals including chiropractors, nurses, doctors, lawyers, and more who need help with addiction recovery. Call us to find out more: 866-848-3001.