Why Is There A Rise In Addiction Among Medical Professionals?

Why Is There A Rise In Addiction Among Medical Professionals?

Even though medical professionals help people struggling with disorders and illness, they too, at times become victims to certain health related problems. One problem is being addicted to drugs and alcohol. 

These professionals have challenging jobs and are often exposed to trauma and bizarre situations like death. Hence, they drive themselves towards addictive substances to cope themselves. But it is important for them to maintain their health to treat patients correctly.

Medical Professionals With Addictions

The Critical Care Medicine journal says that about 10% to 15% of medical professionals are likely to misuse drugs and alcohol. Even Harvard Review of Psychiatry mentions that these professionals are more likely to abuse prescribed drugs such as benzodiazepine and narcotics. Also, data from the Texas Board of Nursing proves that disciplinary actions taken against nurses are about drugs and alcohol. 

Surprisingly, the rate of developing addictions is much higher among medical professionals than other professions as they have easy access to such substances. 

Factors Increasing Addiction

The Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy journal lists some factors posing higher chances of developing addiction:

  • Increased alcohol intake
  • Situations with addictive substance offering
  • Feeling resistant to the addiction
  • Associating with substance users
  • Hereditary inclination
  • Testing controlled substances
  • Early exposure to liquor or tobacco 
  • Comorbid mental judgments

Lately, healthcare professionals have undergone massive stress and trauma due to the pandemic which has led them to using addictive substances to soothe themselves. 

Signs Of Addiction 

Medical professionals are often seen balancing their personal and professional lives when addictions go unnoticed. Some common signs are:

  • Being close to drug supply
  • Working night shifts 
  • Unexplained absences 
  • Using mouth fresheners excessively 
  • Difficulty concentrating or confusion
  • Colleague issues
  • Errors or incomplete tasks
  • Mood swings 

Impact On Patients

Healthcare professionals are prone to make errors with medical treatments while under addiction. Such errors could be: 

  • Mistaken diagnosis 
  • Mishandling surgeries
  • Wrong medication or dosage

Addiction highly affects a professional’s attitude which leads to risking their patient’s life. 

Other Dangers 

Apart from harming patients, professionals with addiction are also prone to facing legal charges or disciplinary actions like: 

  • Major fines
  • Losing license to practice
  • Missing out lost pay
  • Harming patients 


Medical professionals suffering addictions stand a higher chance of relapse than other professionals as they have easy access to substances. However, they also have higher rates of recovery. But these professionals avoid such treatments as they fear losing their jobs and tainting their reputations. 

However, on the brighter side, there exists specialized treatment programs who help such professionals with required treatments while assuring them their license to practice. 

Treatment Program Consists Of:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Counseling 
  • Peer support groups
  • Life skill development
  • Treating co-occurring disorders 
  • Post-treatment support and assistance
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