Doctors are lauded figures in society who represent stability, health, safety, and trust. We often turn to doctors when we feel something is wrong with our bodies, and they help us get better and improve the quality of our lives. They are also heroic figures who save us in emergency situations. Yet licensed medical professionals of varying types are often struggling with substance abuse issues, and this reliance on substances directly stems from the harsh and unforgiving working conditions they endure.
It should not be surprising to hear that many licensed medical professionals struggle with abuse of alcohol, opioids, stimulants, and other drugs. They endure long hours, and often are called back into work outside of their normal hours to attend to emergency matters. They are always “on call,” literally and figuratively. If the long hours do not affect their livelihood, then one can point to a variety of other factors, including tragic medical situations, patient death, difficult patients, tumultuous management within their medical facility, staffing issues including negative relationships with coworkers and understaffing, and so much more. It is inarguable to say that licensed medical professionals endure immense stress in their careers. There is a proven link between stress and subsequent substance abuse.
Many medical professionals do not have a support system to help them cope with their difficult experiences in their careers. If the professional has a spouse who does not work in the same industry, there is a disconnect despite the spouse’s best efforts, because they simply do not have the same experiences. Yet if the spouse is also in the same industry, with both individuals struggling with these elements, it can be impossible to find the energy to support one another. Therapy and other mental health related support are recommended, but many licensed medical professionals cannot find the time to attend, or even find a therapist who can provide services after normal working hours. Lack of support can simply exacerbate existing emotional and mental issues, and cause a greater reliance on substances to cope.
If a medical professional is struggling with substance abuse, the constant threat of being “found out” or reprimanded in their place of employment is another struggle that just often reiterates the cycle of substance abuse. And, possibly, the worst case scenario of having one’s license put on probation, suspended, or revoked due to complaints against it stemming from substance abuse is a possible outcome. There are special programs dedicated to help licensed medical professionals navigate these conditions and try to live a sober life; there are also rehab programs. The most important thing is that these individuals are not alone in their struggles and society can/should extend more transparent support for our licensed medical professionals.
Williams & Nickl has represented thousands of licensed professionals and their licensed business entities who face issues with IDFPR. If you find yourself in such a situation, Williams & Nickl can provide the help you need.