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The Need for Alcohol Addiction Treatment for Medical Doctors

People often view doctors as superheroes, but they need alcohol addiction treatment just as much as any other group. Healthcare workers with drinking problems endanger themselves and their patients, and alcohol addiction treatment can restore their abilities to assess life-or-death situations. Resorting to self-medication in high-stress hospital environments in a no-win situation for everyone involved. In order to help doctors serve their communities, more people need to understand the importance of alcohol addiction treatment in the medical community.

Stresses of the Medical World

Medicine is one of the most stressful careers a person can have. Long hours and on-call shifts mean that many doctors get little sleep. Making life-or-death decisions on a daily basis can also take a serious toll on people’s mental health. Finally, doctors may be at higher risk for a variety of family social problems. Studies over the last several decades suggest that doctors get divorced at rates ten to twenty percent higher than other demographics. Overall, these stressors can easily lead doctors to self-medicate and develop addictions to alcohol. Given their easy access to a variety of drugs, they may also form dependencies on prescription pharmaceuticals.

Helping Doctors Help Others

It’s always beneficial for communities when individual addicts get the help they need – but helping alcoholic doctors is especially important. Good doctors are crucial to society, but they may do more harm than good when their lives are consumed by drinking. Even the most dedicated and successful doctors may make mistakes during surgery or faulty diagnoses when they’re under the influence. A 2008 report showed that one percent of all physicians in the country were attending treatment for alcohol or drug addiction. That may seem like an insignificant figure, but that’s roughly 8,000 doctors – and that doesn’t account for all of the people who haven’t attended rehab.

Alternatives to Inpatient Care

Inpatient treatment is the most intensive option for alcohol rehab, but many doctors won’t be able to take months out of their schedules for their recoveries. They have patients to look after, residents to instruct, and various leadership roles to play at their hospitals or clinics. On top of all that, many physicians have families to care for, as well. Fortunately, there are a few viable alternatives to residential inpatient programs.

Outpatient treatment allows doctors to attend several hours of evidence-based counseling sessions per week, and they are usually able to schedule their therapies according to their availabilities. There are also “accelerated” or “rapid” recovery plans which offer similar services. These programs tend to use alternatives to the usual twelve-step model, but they also allow patients to maintain their working lives.

Support Groups for Doctors

Alcoholic doctors who are able to control most of their cravings may get the most efficient treatment by attending support groups. Alcoholics Anonymous is open to people of any profession, and there is even a subgroup called International Doctors in Alcoholics Anonymous – an organization which supports physicians in their twelve-step recovery efforts. Participation in these groups is not as involved as clinical rehab, but it may be the only way for some doctors to get help and keep their jobs.

If you’re a doctor with a drinking problem, you need to get help – even if that requires time away from your career. To find out more about the best rehab programs, call the number at the top of your screen. We’ll set up an alcohol addiction treatment plan that will allow you to properly care for yourself and your patients.

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More