Medical professionals are seen from a societal perspective as people who are in complete control of their health. Armed with almost a decade of schooling in some instances, healthcare professionals simply know more about what makes our bodies work than the rest of the general population. With that being said, it should come as a surprise to realize that alcohol abuse can run rampant among professionals in the medical field. According to a study performed by the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, drug dependence among physicians is comparable to the general population. What does this all mean?

Alcohol Abuse Does Not Discriminate

Research has been performed throughout the world on the concept of alcohol abuse in the medical field. From 2003 to 2013, according to a study documented by coroners from Australia, there were 404 fatalities in the healthcare field due to drug abuse. The vast majority of these deaths fell in the profession of nursing. While 400 deaths over a 10-year span may seem like a lot, it doesn’t take into account those that live on a day-to-day basis as a functional alcoholic. The harsh reality is that alcohol abuse is truly running rampant throughout the field. The biggest question we have to ask ourselves is: why?

The truth is that we can track alcohol abuse among medical professionals to the late 1860s. Back then, substance abuse was sidled under the phrase ‘habits of intemperance’. The phrase originally referred to medical professionals who used their access in order to get their hands on harder drugs. Nowadays, prescription abuse among medical professionals is a real problem but that isn’t why we are here. We are here to talk about the impact that alcohol abuse specifically is having on the field.

Kent Runyon, a Compliance Officer at the Novus Medical Detox Center, has been candid about the reality of alcohol abuse in the medical world. Runyon argues that substance abuse among medical professionals is a byproduct of society, not the field itself. With so many people in the world struggling with alcohol abuse, it only makes sense that medical professionals would also be hit with issues. Runyon also points out that medical professionals can get their hands on illicit substances far easier than the general population. Yet this doesn’t explain the issue in its entirety.

Alcohol abuse isn’t just a physical reaction to a chemical compound, it is also a mental one. In fact, many people fall into the habit of alcohol abuse due to environmental factors that afflict their wellbeing and their state of mind. High-stress jobs are often found to be contributing triggers to the advent and growth of alcohol addiction. Is there any field of work more stressful than that of the medical professional? Having to deal with life & death situations, as well as the fallout of failure, can become a burden that is too heavy for even the most well-educated professionals to bear.

While medical professionals may be more mentally prepared to understand how troublesome addiction can be, they are no less human for having to deal with it. Depending on the environment of the medical facility, these professionals will have varying support structures in place. If you are struggling with alcohol abuse or know someone that is, reaching out to the Human Resources Department is the best way to go. Symptoms of alcohol abuse vary wildly from one person to the next though commonalities include tardiness, inconsistent performance, and swings in mood and temperament.

Dealing With Alcohol Abuse As A Medical Professional

While medical professionals are armed with knowledge, they still are human like everyone else. Due to the high-stress nature of their jobs and the life-and-death stakes that come with it, finding assistance and remediation is absolutely vital. If you work in the medical field and are in need of assistance, reaching out to a rehabilitation center in order to find aid is of the utmost importance. Only when we confront our problems head-on will we be able to solve them.

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