Being a medical professional means that we work long hours and deal with many patients when they are not at their peak. Sometimes the stress of such work gets to us. We might start with taking something to help us stay awake and then find we have gotten a bit lost in an addiction. It can be especially difficult for those of us in the medical profession to seek help when we need it. This is because we worry about letting others down or what others might think of us. But as the cliché states, we need to put the oxygen mask on ourselves before we put it on others.
The Challenges of Being a Medical Professional
To put it bluntly it is simply not easy to be a medical professional. This means we are ripe to find ourselves in over our heads and in need of support. The issue of substance abuse among medical professionals has remained a problem year after year for decades. Few careers have such odd working hours and so many traumatic experiences as the healthcare industry. The high levels of stress and physical pain that come with this job open the door to numerous types of addiction.
How Might We Get Hooked on Something?
Substance use disorder, often known as drug addiction, is an illness that affects a person’s brain and behavior. This results in an inability to manage the use of a legal or illegal drug or medicine. Substances like alcohol, marijuana, and nicotine are also classified as drugs. When we’re hooked, we may continue using the drug, despite the consequences. Substance addiction can begin with the trial use of a recreational drug in social contexts, which then progresses to more frequent use. People, particularly those addicted to opioids, become addicted to drugs when they consume prescribed medications or receive them from others who have prescriptions.
As medical professionals we have easier access to drugs than the average person on the streets. This means we can get deeper into our addiction before realizing we are over our heads. We may also worry about what other doctors will think if we admit we have a problem because we fear looking like the only one struggling to balance everything. All medical professionals are under lots of stress, so it is not surprising that we sometimes struggle and make poor choices. Being addicted does not indicate anything about ourselves other than we need to find more support and better ways to handle the challenges we face daily.
What Is Detoxing Like?
Detoxification, also known as detox, is the process of abstaining from drugs or alcohol to cleanse our bodies of toxins that have accumulated over time. During this period, our bodies will experience withdrawal symptoms as it adjusts to life without these substances. Although everyone’s detox experience is unique, common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sweating, sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression. Detoxing is challenging and can be done successfully if we connect with others and ask for help. None of us want to try detoxing on our own, and if we do, we are likely to give up because detoxing feels horrible. If we are taking the step of entering treatment, we might as well set ourselves up for success.
Specialized Rehab Programs
If we are medical professionals, we may need a specialized rehab program. In such cases we might look for a First Responder Rehab Program. These are addiction treatment programs especially designed for law enforcement, firefighters, military personnel, paramedics, and other first responders. Patients in a first responder recovery program work alongside other first responders to overcome addiction. Professional staff members assist patients in their recovery and in achieving a life free of substance misuse.
Such programs have staff that have experience and knowledge to address the unique conditions that first responders battling addiction may encounter. These conditions include traumatic events, fear of losing their employment, difficulty asking for help, and more. Rather than attempting to integrate into a standard rehab program where a first responder’s specific trauma or work circumstances may not be understood or accounted for, patients in a first responder addiction treatment program will be surrounded by professionals trained to help them overcome their struggles with addiction and their careers. This means we will have a higher success rate than if we enter a general rehab program.