While we all know that human beings come in all shapes, sizes and personality types, there are multiple well-known and predictable similarities among the behaviors of people in active addiction. These similar behaviors are extremely commonplace among addicts and are very familiar to experienced addiction therapists. Such predictable behaviors include denial, deceptiveness and evasiveness. Trained addiction therapists know early on in the treatment process to evaluate the addict for these behaviors in order to begin the process of positive behavioral change. Then, as the therapeutic relationship with the client grows, addiction therapists can proceed to seek out those issues specific to that client which are also fueling addiction. Such issues are varied, but may include things such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or chronic pain issues.
Having illustrated the similarities among addicts, there are some populations of addicted individuals which present unique challenges to addiction therapists. One such population is addicted healthcare professionals. Substance use and abuse among healthcare professionals is a very real problem, which really should not be surprising; remember, addiction affects people equally in all walks of life. Add to this the facts that healthcare professionals work long hours under difficult circumstances, frequently have contact with highly upsetting traumatic events and have greatly increased access to substances of abuse; one can see how addiction could be a significant risk to our healthcare workers. In addition to this, it is not uncommon for nurses to develop chronic pain issues due to the physical nature of the work they do, and chronic pain issues can frequently lead to opioid abuse. Finally, experiencing traumatic events as healthcare professionals often do can sometimes lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is also well-known to be a risk factor for substance abuse.
The evaluation and treatment of healthcare professionals, while certainly sharing all of the features involved in the care of other addicted individuals, presents certain unique challenges. This group of people frequently experience extreme shame over their substance abuse, feeling that they should “know better” as a result of their training. This, of course, ignores the fact that intelligence and education are not protective factors from addiction. Unfortunately, this extreme shame often delays the individual from seeking help. Additionally, there is the fear that exposure of the substance abuse could jeopardize their licenses and careers. While this can happen in extreme cases, in the vast majority of cases the healthcare professional is able to return to their career without major consequence. Finally, healthcare workers face the unique challenge of returning to a workplace in which they actually handle their drugs of choice; thus, this group of people must receive high quality treatment from addiction therapists who have significant experience dealing with this population. At Resurgence Tampa Bay, we have over 25 years of experience dealing with addicted professionals, as well as with issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. If you feel that you or a loved one is at risk, please contact us so that we may help to restore the real you