Drug Treatment for Healthcare Workers

One profession that many people don’t consider as having the potential to enabling an addiction versus other jobs is healthcare workers. Medical professionals such as nurses, doctors, lab technicians, and other medical practitioners are often at an increased risk for developing an addiction. Since their careers are focused on saving lives, these professionals are under a tremendous amount of stress. As healthcare workers, these individuals must perform regardless of the type of day they are having or the current status of their relationships, family life, or financial burdens. The decisions they make for a patient are often the ones that will save or end a person’s life.

Drug Treatment for Healthcare Workers

Easy Access to Drugs for Healthcare Workers

Additionally, healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses, have direct access to addicting drugs. It is not uncommon for them to handle and directly administer drugs like prescription pain killers (Vicodin, Oxycodone, Morphine, Dilaudid, etc.), benzodiazepines (Xanax, Ativan, Valium), or other addicting medicines like sedatives used during surgeries, such as Propofol. Different types of healthcare workers who may not directly handle addictive drugs also have access to them inpatient IV drips, lab counters, or through connections with doctors. It is not uncommon for medical doctors or R.N’s to prescribe medications to their coworkers, such as lab technicians or aides without following protocols because they know them.

According to the National Council State Boards of Nursing, in their substance use disorder nursing resource manual, it provides a solid example of behaviors that nurses and other healthcare workers might display if they have been abusing drugs. Although the manual is specific to the field of nursing, it provides a clear description of how addiction causes people to become deceptive in the healthcare setting because they are controlled by their addiction.

Per NCSBN, general symptoms of substance use problems among nurses (and other healthcare workers) include defensiveness, isolation, irritability, and difficulty following through on work assignments. Signs and symptoms of a prescription-type substance use disorder can include:

  • Coming to work on days off and volunteering for overtime.
  • Coming to work while on vacation can suggest the need to divert prescription drugs from clinical supplies
  • Healthcare professionals with a substance use disorder can also display suspicious behaviors surrounding incorrect narcotic counts
  • Volunteering to administer medications, or waiting to be alone to open a narcotic cabinet
  • Prioritizing an opportunity to handle drugs when there are no witnesses to verify the wasting of unused medications
  • Other coworkers can misinterpret these behaviors as a dedication to duty by the employee, which leaves the substance use disorder unrecognized.

The potential for a healthcare worker to develop an addiction is likely due to the level of stress they are under and the easy access to addictive drugs. Alcoholism also occurs among healthcare workers. There are examples of medical processionals never abusing drugs but consuming alcohol in large amounts once they are off the clock. The risks that healthcare professionals take to continue using drugs or drinking also endanger the patients. For many healthcare workers, their need to get high or drunk will affect their performance and decision-making that can cause serious consequences for the patient and the healthcare worker.

Addiction Treatment for Medical Professionals

Legal consequences for a medical practitioner who administers healthcare while under the influence are severe. Many medical practitioners lose their license and freedom due to an addiction. The help that is available for healthcare workers who are addicted to drugs and or alcohol or both relies on evidence-based forms of therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy to treat addiction.

Our recommended drug treatment programs connect doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals with rehab facilities that center around the challenges and issues healthcare workers face. For example, how to continue working with and handling prescription drugs, anonymity and privacy, and stress management techniques and tools. As part of a treatment program for healthcare workers, they will receive an individualized treatment plan.

Individualized treatment plans are tailored to meet the needs of the individual. Since healthcare workers are often still employed when they attend a treatment program, the types of programs that are available work around their schedules while providing the most focused forms of therapy for the individual. The types of drug treatment programs we recommend for healthcare workers include intensive outpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol treatment. To be connected to one of these programs, contact one of our drug treatment specialists today to be admitted to a program within 24 hours or less.

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