Are Medical Professionals Who Abuse Drugs Putting Lives at Risk?

doctor stressed over his addiction

Medical professionals have a new hurdle to overcome: their own addiction. When the stresses of the job become overwhelming, drug abuse can seem a great way to escape–especially with easy access to a variety of substances.

However, the rise in substance abuse among physicians and nurses is causing a rumble in the medical community. Medical professionals who abuse drugs are not rare; in fact, few officials are surprised by it nowadays.

Are Lives At Risk?

Imagine visiting your doctor for your annual exam. You notice that he takes a long time getting to you, and when he does, he’s acting strange–jittery, uncoordinated, out of character. What do you do? Stay quiet and politely let him check you? Or exercise your right to refuse treatment and request a different doctor? What if he has been your family doctor for years?

Drugs render the user uncoordinated, unaware, and unsafe. People do strange, dangerous things when they are under the influence of drugs–like drink and drive, or have unprotected sex with a stranger. This is the risk involved in physician drug abuse. Your doctor will be examining you, maybe writing prescriptions, handling your medical recods—sometimes even administering medication himself. Someone on drugs is liable to make mistakes—often disastrous ones.

You have full right to request a new doctor if you suspect drug abuse. It may mean saving your own life or that of another.

Some Medical Professionals Are Going To Desperate Measures

Addicts will go to unthinkable measures to get their next fix. A straight-A student with an immaculate record may find himself breaking into a neighbor’s house to get the money he needs for drugs. A mother will use up her children’s college savings to buy meth. People lie, steal and kill for drugs.

It is no different in the medical community. Doctors addicted to drugs will find themselves behaving in ways they never imagined, falsifying prescriptions or stealing from patients. One case reported a nurse pilfering painkillers from a dying patient’s IV. Another case was found hoarding prescription drugs and running his own illicit drug business to fund his heroin addiction.

The Facts On Medical Drug Abuse

Approximately ten percent of nurses are addicts, according to the American Nurses Association. Anesthetists have the highest likelihood of drug abuse, followed by ICU and emergency room nurses. While it is true that these medical professionals deal with very high levels of stress every day, they are also dealing with patients who are under stress, often going through life-or-death experiences. A nurse or doctor under the influence of drugs is not a desirable candidate for the treatment of such patients.

Penalties for nurse drug abuse are getting more and more rigorous. In the past, nurses have been given lenient adjudication, with some even allowed four chances before having their licenses revoked. Medical supervisors and boards are realizing the dire consequences as drug abuse among medical professionals continues to spread.

If you know a medical professional with a drug problem help is just a phone call away. Contact Narconon for more information on this growing problem.



Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.