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Dentists face daily pressures often not seen in other industries today. As sole managers of their practice, these professionals are taxed with the delicate balance between running a business and caring for their patients. Couple that with competitive pressures and long working hours and it is easy to see why dentists may be particularly vulnerable to substance abuse and addiction. Easy access to drugs such as narcotics can also increase the risk for substance use, which can become problematic over time.

Despite the potential for abuse and addiction faced by many dentists today, few seek help at the first signs of a problem. The stigma attached to addiction, along with the intense fear of having their substance abuse discovered, keeps many professionals in this industry from getting the necessary treatment to overcome their dependency. The Center for Professional Recovery, which specialized in treating doctors, dentists and other professionals struggling with addiction, understands the hesitancy many in this profession feel. However, they are prepared to work with you and others in similar lines of work to pinpoint the issues that led up to the addiction, discover the path to long-term recovery and restore your career in most cases.

Reasons behind the Problem

Dentists may be particularly vulnerable to substance abuse and dependency for a variety of reasons:

  • Many students in dental school begin using alcohol or drugs as a means of dealing with the stress
  • Dentists often manage their practices alone, leaving all the responsibilities of the business to fall on their shoulders
  • Competition within the industry increases pressure on dentists to perform at their highest level daily
  • Consuming nature of the business means dentists have little free time for family, friends or activities they enjoy
  • Personality types in the industry, such as perfectionism and obsessive-compulsive behavior, often lead to substance use to alleviate pressure placed on themselves
  • Easy access to drugs such as prescription opioids and nitrous oxide

Dentists abusing substances may think there is not the time to take off for treatment since they are solely responsible for their practice. They may also be reluctant to open up about their addiction due to the consequences that might have on their professional standing. However, studies have found that dentists that do seek treatment have a very high success rate in maintaining long-term sobriety and resuming their practices.

Types of Substances Abused

While dentists may develop an addiction to any substance, the most common that are seen within this industry according to the American Dental Association (ADA) include:

  • Alcohol – used by 37 percent of dentists identified with a substance use disorder
  • Prescription Drugs (including opioids and anti-anxiety drugs) – used by 31 percent
  • Street Drugs (includes all illicit substances) – used by 10 percent
  • Nitrous Oxide – used by five percent

Risk Factors for Substance Abuse

In addition to the reasons behind addiction listed above, some dentists might be at even higher risk for addiction due to the following factors:

  • A family history of substance abuse
  • Environmental influences
  • Friends the frequently use drugs or alcohol
  • Age when drug or alcohol use first started
  • Self-esteem issues or co-existing mental health disorders
  • Method of using drugs (smoking, injection, snorting, etc.)
  • Availability or easy access to substances

If a mental illness is present with the addiction, this is known as a co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring disorders can be significantly more challenging to treat since both issues must be addressed simultaneously to ensure the best odds of a successful recovery. The Center for Professional Recovery is experienced in managing co-occurring disorders among professionals and can work with patients to treat both the addiction and the mental health disorder together during our program.

Help Targeted to Dentists

Even when a dentist is ready to pursue treatment for an addiction, a traditional treatment program with a non-specific professional milieu may not provide the experience necessary to promote a positive recovery. Professionals in the healthcare field often find it is difficult to forgo the role of a doctor and become a patient in that environment. There may also be a fear of encountering others in the treatment process that would compromise their professional privacy.

At Center for Professional Recovery, you will undergo treatment with others from healthcare, as well as the legal, aviation and business professions. We cater to the needs of patients like yourself to provide the accountability, privacy and attention necessary to put you on a path to long-term sobriety. To learn more about our programs contact our center today at 866.298.0056.

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