Physician health programs for addicted doctors are effective in helping healthcare professionals recover from addiction, a study conducted on physician health programs reveals. These programs provide a structured and supportive environment in which healthcare professionals can detoxify and receive treatment for their addiction. It also provides a forum for physician health professionals to share their experience and knowledge with other healthcare professionals who are struggling with addiction. To learn about the benefits of these addiction treatment programs, please contact BoardPrep Recovery Center® today at 866.796.4720.
Physician Health Programs for Addicted Doctors
Drug addiction runs rampant among medical professionals. USA Today reports that thousands of doctors, nurses, technicians, and other healthcare professionals are battling addiction, mostly involving narcotics such as oxycodone and fentanyl. What sets doctors and nurses apart from other professionals is their accessibility to highly addictive drugs. With highly sought-after drugs within reach, the temptation to use them can quickly start and continue an addiction.
Most doctors are reluctant to seek addiction treatment because they fear people will find out, leading to judgment, criticism, and licensure problems. There’s also debate among many medical professionals that addiction treatment is ineffective, which compounds the risks of exposure. However, our experts suggest that addiction treatment does not work for many medical professionals because they didn’t seek the right type of treatment.
Why Doctors Need a Different Type of Addiction Treatment
Doctors may have the same disease as others who are abusing drugs, but their thought processes are different. Addiction isn’t just a physical dependency on a chemical introduced into the body. There’s also a mental, emotional, and for many people, spiritual dependency.
When addiction treatment is generalized to cover a large population of people who differ in how they think, feel, and believe, it is ineffective. The counseling and education do not apply to them, so they walk away from treatment without the tools they need to remain drug-free.
For doctors, the stakes are higher in the event of relapse after treatment. A doctor who relapses puts their patients at risk, as well as themselves. Therefore, accountability must be a part of the treatment plan for addicted doctors seeking treatment. This accountability occurs naturally if the doctor is referred to the PHP by a practice partner or the licensing board. However, they must be encouraged if they voluntarily submit to treatment.
The Answer to Treating Addiction in Medical Professionals
The goal of treatment for doctors addicted to drugs is to improve long-term outcomes and promote lifetime recovery. The current system isn’t working, which is why there needs to be a new standard of addiction treatment through physician health programs. These programs are not run like traditional addiction treatments. They are not disciplinary or linked with law enforcement in any way. They are also not associated with licensing organizations.
Physician health programs provide active care managers to oversee long-term care, which includes assessment, treatment, and drug testing for accountability. Doctors will work with caregivers, doctors, and counselors to cover all areas of addiction recovery. These experts serve the following purposes:
- Caregivers provide consistent monitoring and support
- Doctors focus on the physical aspects of the addiction
- Counselors work on the mental, emotional, and spiritual issues
The success of physician health programs depends on the incentives for compliance with the program and the consequences of non-compliance. Incentives include higher recovery rates and advocacy, when needed, with 3rd parties.
Consequences of Physician Health Programs
Consequences may include relapse, job loss, additional treatment expenses, and potential legal fees. Most people enter treatment due to outside influence, whether or not they feel they are ready or have hit bottom.
After voluntarily entering the program, if the physician fails to adhere to the program’s recommendations or returns to alcohol or drug use, they face the pote6ntial loss of the safe harbor of the program. In other words, they may start down a path toward sanctions on their medical license.
The known consequences of non-compliance with the program may seem counterproductive in encouraging doctors to enter them. Still, in reality, addicted doctors who enter these programs usually do so because of the dramatically increased recovery rates they demonstrate. When physicians know their lives and careers depend on their success in the PHPs, they are more likely to follow the recommendations that produce the best outcomes.
Physician health programs are also for those who desperately want to stop the cycle of addiction but doubt the effectiveness of traditional treatment modalities due to trying it before or general knowledge. When physicians are ready to end their addiction, they know PHPs will hold them to that decision.
The Goals of Physician Health Programs Beyond Recovery
Physician health programs are not only available for physicians ready to treat their addiction but they also:
- Assess and evaluate potential problems
- Identify and treat comorbid conditions
- Provide long-term contingency monitoring
These aspects of physician health programs can help reduce the rates of physician addiction by catching the disease in the early stages. They can then treat possible causes of addiction, such as mental illness, and keep physicians in recovery for life.
What to Expect with Physician Health Programs
Evaluation and intervention begin the process of working with physician health programs. After identifying, most physicians start with a quasi-residential treatment, even though outpatient treatment is available.
Following quasi-residential or outpatient treatment, physicians receive support from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or similar programs. Many physicians are required to have worksite monitoring and agree to drug testing four times a month the first year and then 20 tests a year each year afterward.
Results of Physician Health Programs
A longitudinal study conducted on physician health programs reveals they are effective in helping physicians recover from addiction. Out of 904 physicians admitted to 16 physician health programs with 802 in the 5-year follow-up, 64.2% or 515 physicians completed the contract, and 16.4% or 132 physicians extended the contract. Only 19.3% or 155 failed to complete the contract. At the 5-year follow-up, 78% of the participants still had their licenses or were working.
Why Physician Health Programs Work
Physician health programs work because they promote abstinence-based treatment with serious consequences for non-compliance. While most people believe this would turn physicians off from the treatment, that is not the case because the results are impressive with:
- Lower rates of use
- Higher rates of long-term success
- Lower rates of failure
Part of the success of PHPs is the behavioral triage aspect of the treatment. It is only for physicians who need it to stay clean and sober, and they must choose it. The goals of the participating physicians and PHPs align in achieving success over the addiction.
Why Does Traditional Treatment Work?
Traditional addiction treatment for physicians doesn’t work as well because:
- There is infrequent or no drug testing, and most of the tests are scheduled instead of having frequent, spontaneous drug testing.
- Delayed responses to positive or missed tests and missed appointments cause people not to take them seriously, while the responses of physician health programs are immediate.
- Traditional treatment is short-term for a long-term problem.
- Treatment programs either underuse or don’t use the 12-step programs, which have been shown repeatedly in studies to be highly effective in long-term recovery.
The Future of Addiction Treatment for Doctors in Physician Health Programs
The new physician health programs impact drug and alcohol addiction among doctors, offering positive solutions to a complex problem. Offering this addiction recovery option to doctors allows them to participate in their own recovery. They then take back control over their lives and keep their careers intact as long as they follow through with the contract. The PHP recovery model deserves the support of professionals and the public for its dramatic positive impact on healthcare. Physician health programs also serve as a model to emulate in the treatment of addictive disorders in all people. If it’s good enough for doctors and other healthcare professionals, treatment experts should pay attention.
How BoardPrep Recovery Can Help
As an approved provider for many physician health programs across the nation, BoardPrep stands ready to guide each doctor in considering participation as part of their recovery process. Some doctors come to us without prior knowledge or involvement with these programs. Participation is always voluntary and, ultimately, the personal choice of each person whether or not to participate. With over 20 years of experience in physician health programs, the trusted advisors at BoardPrep know the best approach for each doctor in our care. For more information, please get in touch with the BoardPrep clinical director for a confidential consultation.
Contact BoardPrep Recovery Center®
If you’re looking for rehab for addicted doctors, we are here for you. We offer a range of addiction treatment options, including:
- Alcohol addiction treatment
- Heroin addiction treatment
- Opioid addiction treatment
- Prescription drug addiction treatment
- Benzo addiction treatment
To learn more about our rehab for healthcare professionals in Florida, please contact 866.796.4720 today.