Stress increases risk factors for drug addiction
Drug addiction afflicts hundreds of thousands of people annually in the U.S. Addiction is not picky. It does not care if you are rich or poor, old or young. Likewise, health care professionals are not immune to this disease. In fact, many think that a health care professional is actually at greater risk of developing a drug addiction. Job stress and access to the medications are factors that put a health care professional at greater risk of developing a drug addiction.
5 tips for medical professionals diagnosed with drug addiction
When a health care professional finds themselves in the grasp of an addiction, the treatment they require is somewhat different. Here are 5 tips that are essential for successful addiction recovery for a health care professional.
1. Find someone you can trust and confide in them about possible addiction.
One of the hardest things for a health care professional to do is admit they have an addiction. It is taboo for them and it is very hard for them to admit that they need help. We are trained to care for others and sometimes forget that we also need cared for. It is essential to find someone – a friend, co-worker, family member – that you can open up to about your addiction. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.
2. Contact your state’s professionals assistance program.
Most states have an assistance program specifically for health care professionals with an addiction. These programs are there to not only help the health care professional, but also to protect the public. These programs are anonymous. One example of a program for nurses is ISNAP. It stands for Indiana State Nurses Assistance Program. It is a structured program that monitors a nurse for up to 3 years. I personally owe my recovery to a program like this one. I needed structure and guidance for my recovery and these programs give you that.
3. Locate an inpatient treatment facility that specializes in healthcare workers.
If you need to go to an inpatient treatment facility, make sure that it is one that specializes in the treatment of healthcare workers. These treatment facilities recognize that a healthcare worker needs a longer and more focused treatment. A nurse that goes into treatment needs a minimum of 60 days of treatment. The reason is that healthcare workers are surrounded by these medications every day and if they chose to go back to work in that setting, it is imperative that they have a strong recovery foundation. If they do not have that, then the chance of relapse is very high. One example of a treatment facility that specializes in healthcare workers is Resurrection Behavioral Health in Chicago, Illinois.
4. Find a support group
Most health care professionals can find a support group for their specialty. For example, there are many nurse support groups. These groups are structured so that everyone in the group are nurses and they can relate to the specific struggles a nurse goes through with an addiction and recovery. There are also addiction support groups for doctors, pharmacists, etc. Many of the professional assistance programs require that they attend one of these support groups weekly.
5. Don’t go back to the job setting too soon.
One of the biggest mistakes healthcare workers make is going back to the job setting of their addiction too soon. I made that mistake and I relapsed very quickly. It is very hard to return to the setting where you used or where you obtained your drugs. There are triggers everywhere. There are sight triggers as well as smell triggers. You must have a very strong recovery foundation and a lot of support to be able to attempt to go back into that setting. For some people, they are never able to return to that area again. I am one of those. I have chosen to go into a different avenue of nursing. I personally don’t want to put myself in that position at this point in my recovery. It is a personal decision, but I would caution any health care professional to be very aware of the risks.
A health care professional with an addiction has a very hard, uphill battle to climb to get into recovery, but it can be done. These tips will help you to start building that strong recovery foundation.