Substance abuse and dentists don’t mix. As a dental professional, a dentist has access to many prescription drugs. For this reason, there is actually a significant risk that professionals or their family members may access these medications and develop addictions as a result. Even if it’s not due to those prescription medications, the stress of the job can lead to dentists drinking alcohol in excess or developing other behavioral problems.
In 2005, researchers determined that many dentists reported heavy episodic alcohol use in the last month and year compared to physicians. Furthermore, more dentists than physicians admitted to minor opiate use.
Abusing drugs or alcohol is a danger to dentists and their patients alike. It hinders their ability to provide the best possible dental care, and it could mean making a mistake that impacts a patient for life. A dentist could end up losing their medical license for a period of time, if not permanently, if the court determines that they have been practicing dentistry while using drugs or alcohol. That’s why addiction treatment is the best help for dentists available.
What Are the Risk Factors for Drug Abuse in Dentists?
There are a few risk factors for drug abuse in dentistry. There are some factors, like genetic and environmental influences, that may impact the doctors. Furthermore, there are also factors such as:
- Co-existing mental health problems
- Low self-esteem
- Availability of drugs or alcohol
Many experts believe that alcohol is the most commonly abused substance by dentists. Many dental students use alcohol during dental school to cope with the stress of the program. Drug use may also start at that time. Men are twice as like to have problems with drug addiction compared to female dentists.
Why Is Alcohol Most Likely to Be Abused By Dentists?
Alcohol is most likely to be abused by dentists because of its easy availability. One study determined that alcohol was often offered to dentists by friends or colleagues in social settings. Other commonly used substances include:
What Is the Impact of Drug Addiction on the Dental Profession?
The most obvious impact is the risk to dentists and their patients alike. Impaired dentists are more likely to make mistakes or harm patients, which cannot always be corrected. They cannot deliver the best care to their patients and pose a real danger to themselves and others. In fact, this danger is so severe that any colleagues who learn about colleague’s chemical dependency have to intervene constructively. This action is an ethical and professional duty.
Interventions may not initially require the coworkers to report a dentist to the state dental society wellness committee. Still, it is a possibility if the dentist refuses to seek help when it is available.
The good news is that treatment is available, and the American Dental Association and state well-being programs are prepared for any impaired dentists to seek treatment. Dentists who seek treatment may be able to retain their licenses, which is often a significant concern.
Get Help at Southworth Associates International
At Southworth Associates International, we can help you set up an intervention for dentists who need addiction treatment. There are treatment options for substance abuse, and dentists deserve an opportunity to get that required care. You can learn more about our sober coaching options, programs for recovering dental professionals, and more when you reach out to Southworth Associates. Call us today to learn more about substance abuse and dentists at 844.521.0523.