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Addiction Recovery Blog

Why are Healthcare Professionals at a High Risk for Addiction?

An exhausted nurse sitting on the floor at the hospital

They’re essential, but often go unnoticed. They’re steadfast in their calling to help others and work every day to help our communities and families stay safe. They don’t get enough thanks for all that they do, but that doesn’t stop them from continuing to make a difference. We’re talking about healthcare professionals.

From doctors to nurses and orderlies, essential workers are on the frontlines providing services our communities couldn’t go without. Even though the coronavirus (COVID-19) has presented new challenges for these heroes, there’s another problem that’s hiding in the shadows.

Healthcare professionals are unfortunately at a higher risk of developing a drug or alcohol addiction than those who work in other industries. But why are these frontline healthcare heroes more likely to experience substance abuse? Let’s walk through some of the main reasons why healthcare professionals are at a high risk for addiction.

Reasons Healthcare Workers are at Higher Risk of Addiction

High Levels of Stress

It’s no surprise that being a healthcare professional comes with a lot of on-the-job stress. After all, many healthcare professionals are making life and death decisions regularly. But that’s not the only source of pressure in healthcare.

Everyone makes mistakes on the job. The difference with healthcare is that a mistake can have much more serious consequences. This added pressure can build over time and leave people turning to substance abuse as a way to cope. Other sources of stress for healthcare professionals include:

  • Poor work-life balance due to demanding schedules and long hours
  • Having to constantly adapt to new challenges and patient needs
  • The pressure to live up to the expectations held by patients and their families
  • Frustration due to having to deal with red tape surrounding healthcare management and medical insurance companies

Fatigue and Healthcare

It’s common in the healthcare field to work long hours. Many nurses and doctors work 12-hour shifts on weekends, nights and on holidays. Plus, their schedules can change quickly, making it hard to get into a rhythm. As a result, many healthcare professionals can feel exhausted.

Given the nature of the work schedule, some nurses and doctors have a hard time getting enough sleep. Having to be always on top of your game can make it challenging to relax. This causes some healthcare professionals to use drugs or alcohol as a way to wind down after a long day at work.

Healthcare Professionals Might Not Ask for Help

Asking for help with a substance abuse is hard for anyone, but it may be especially hard for healthcare workers who feel as if they should know better. For example, if a nurse starts drinking to help cope with the stress of their job, they may feel like asking for help isn’t an option. Healthcare professionals are used to being the medical problem solvers for others, and this mindset can make it hard for them to seek treatment for themselves.

There’s also the fact that many healthcare professionals feel guilty about taking time off. That’s because they know the difference that they make every day to people in need. Plus, many healthcare workers don’t want to deal with the stigma attached to addiction.

For example, if a doctor is in recovery for an opioid addiction, they might not be able to come back to work right away. Many hospitals have strict rules about prescribing medication and see addiction as an added risk.

COVID-19 Can Add to Addiction Risk

COVID-19 has turned the healthcare industry on its head. Many healthcare professionals are working longer hours to help fight against the virus, all while exposing themselves to a higher risk of infection.

When medical crises like COVID-19 happen, it puts extra weight on all the other causes for addiction we listed above. Add given that COVID-19 made quarantine the norm, many healthcare professionals are more isolated than usual, which can fuel substance abuse.

Find Hope for Lasting Recovery at Footprints Beachside Recovery

If you or your loved one is a healthcare professional suffering from addiction, Footprints Beachside Recovery can help. Our luxury rehab center in Florida can give you the tools to break free from addiction.

We know that every addiction is unique. That’s why our program takes the time to get to know each client on a personal level. Together, we can uncover the underlying causes of your addiction. In the serene and beautiful beach town of Treasure Island, you can heal at your own pace and reclaim your life.

At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we know how challenging it can be to keep the stress of your life at bay. But no matter what your addiction looks like, we’re here to help you move forward in recovery. Contact us today to begin your journey.