We often think of medical personnel as being above reproach, almost like superheroes. But the truth is these individuals are just as human as the rest of us, and sometimes, they fail too. One of the biggest instances of this issue is in the high rate of substance abuse among doctors.
It is estimated that between 10 and 14 percent of doctors and nurses in the U.S. are addicted to drugs or alcohol. In addition, certain physicians are at serious risk of becoming addicted to drugs, more so than others. These are anesthesiologists, emergency room workers, and psychiatrists. The former actually sees a rate of addiction 2.5 times higher than that of other doctors. Anesthesiologists are at a specific risk because they have so much access to addictive, dangerous drugs.
Substance abuse is a difficult thing to fight, especially once it begins to take control of a person’s life. The first time you start abusing an addictive drug, it starts working on your brain, changing its patterns so you will begin to crave it over time. As such, when doctors and nurses have such easy access to medications, it is terribly difficult for them to put an end to their substance abuse without help.
It is time for us to begin to recognize the serious problem of substance abuse among medical personnel and to create more understanding and fewer stigmas around this issue. After all, doctors and nurses are people too, and people with addictions need help in order to get better.