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Impaired Physicians Program

Addiction is a powerful and chronic brain disease that can affect anyone, regardless of race, age, education, socio-economic standing, clout, or career. Even healthcare professionals, whose job is to care for our public’s health and well-being, can be deeply haunted by the hold of addiction. If you work in the medical industry and suffer with substance abuse addiction, your ability to perform duties may be drastically compromised and your patients will be at risk. Fortunately, there is help for you to end addiction and return to your fulfilling profession.

Positive Sobriety Institute compassionately serves doctors, physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals living with substance abuse addiction through comprehensive rehabilitation and relapse prevention. We welcome all healthcare professionals to seek effective addiction recovery at our experienced treatment center for impaired physicians.

One of the first major publications reporting on physician drug use and consequent impairment was titled ‘The Sick Physician’ published in 1973. This seminal paper called for the need to treat impaired physicians, and was instrumental to the development of physician health programs (PHPs) as we know them today. These state run programs were developed to identify, evaluate and to rehabilitate impaired physicians. Healthcare organizations are mandated by the Medicare Conditions of Participation, the Joint Commission’s Hospital Accreditation Standards, and state health care facility licensing regulations, and state tort law to ensure the competence of all licensed medical staff.

Pressures of the Healthcare Industry

Today it is estimated that 10 to 12 percent of physicians and nurses develop substance use problems. For physicians and practitioners in emergency medicine, anesthesiology, and psychiatry are at the highest risk. We also know that the drug of choice can be correlated by specialty, e.g., the majority of addicted anesthesiologists use intravenous opioids such as fentanyl and sufentanil, to which they have unprecedented access.

In general, physicians are at least 30 times more likely than the general population to become addicted to narcotics. Even worse, it is estimated that 40 percent of physician suicides are associated with alcohol, and 20 percent with drug abuse. During rehab for physicians, the clinical team at Positive Sobriety Institute carefully takes into consideration the following demands of the healthcare profession when creating a tailored recovery treatment plan for each patient:

Patient Care Service. The very nature of the healthcare profession is to administer patient care, which can be one of the most rewarding and the most difficult aspects of the medical practice. Patient care can be demanding and noncompliant, which can become a huge source of anxiety and psychological stress for healthcare professionals. For doctors and physicians who become addicted to drugs, it’s important to address effective patient care stress management and coping skills during recovery.

Availability of Substances. Prescription drug access is more widely available to doctors and physicians given their ability to prescribe medication. When in rehab, healthcare professionals need to learn how to manage addiction triggers and temptations when confronted with the same daily responsibilities that initially enabled and propelled addiction.

Irregular Work Hours. The demands of working as a healthcare professional are strenuous, frequently requiring 60-hour workweeks at unexpected hours of the day. On top of the emotional stress that healthcare workers endure, the extended workdays can be physically exhausting and even interfere with personal relationships, regular recreation, and healthy diet. Addiction rehab for doctors involves stress management techniques under these strenuous circumstances to better equip them with the coping resources to manage substance abuse temptation during these times.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction Among Practitioners

For healthcare professionals, the risk factors are somewhat different. Because nurses, doctors, and physicians in a hospital setting have access to addictive medication, they are at risk, especially after a stressful life event. The following describes observable signs of substance use disorder among working nurses.

Behavioral Changes

  • Unexplained absences
  • Medication errors
  • Isolation from peers
  • Mood changes after meals or breaks
  • Frequent reports of lack of pain relief from assigned patients
  • Wasted narcotics attributed to a single nurse
  • Discrepancies with the narcotic record or the patient record
  • Altered verbal or telephone medication orders
  • Decreased quality of care, documentation arriving late to work and leaving early
  • Defensiveness
  • Mood changes
  • Lack of concentration

Physical Changes

  • Shakiness
  • Fatigue
  • Slurred speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Unsteady gait
  • Change in grooming
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Runny nose

Treatment Works

The largest study to date, often referred to as the “Blueprint Study,” followed 904 physicians from 16 state physician health programs. The program included drug and alcohol monitoring, 12-Step and mandated peer support groups. Remarkably, after five years, 78% of the participants had no positive tests for drugs or alcohol and nearly all who desired to do so, returned to practicing medicine without relapse.

There is a wide range of resources available to assist medical professionals. The Federation of State Physician Health Programs has a list of those approved treatment centers on its website. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing nearly 40 states offer some form of a substance abuse treatment program to assist nurses to treatment, monitor their re-entry to work, and continue their career. Alternative programs monitor and support the recovering nurse for safe practice. Strong recovery programs offer a comprehensive, bio-behavioral, individualized treatment plan. PSI is a nationally recognized program for evaluation and treatment of medical professionals.

Rehab You Can Trust

The clinical team at Positive Sobriety Institute has years of combined experience in administering impaired professionals program for drug, alcohol, and prescription drug addictions – rehab that is highly tailored, exclusive, and confidential. Our clinical team is experienced in balancing the needs of the individual, while working with licensing boards and employers to ensure that our healthcare professionals safely return to productive medical practices. We administer rehab for doctors that takes careful precaution to preserve our patients’ reputation, medical license, and career longevity.

Begin Your Journey Today

At Positive Sobriety Institute, we recognize the passion you have for your healthcare profession. We know you have a lot to lose – and a lot to gain from recovery. Let us help you achieve recovery and return to your career and your life, addiction free.

Please call the knowledgeable staff at Positive Sobriety Institute today for more information at 855-274-4278. We are available 24/7 to answer any questions or concerns you may have.



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Positive Sobriety: The Book
Daniel H. Angres, MD

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The addiction recovery and rehabilitation experts at Positive Sobriety Institute are standing by 24/7 to answer your questions about our addiction treatment and rehabilitation program.

(877) 879-3312