We need to protect doctors from these drugs just as we protect the general public, and there needs to be a policy shift away from doctors having easy access to potent pharmaceuticals. As much as I bemoan the over prescription of addictive drugs by doctor’s, I also sympathize with members of a profession who combine a stressful and demanding job with easy access to drugs; to too often predictable results.
Doctors are Humans and Humans are Weak
Additionally, when admitting to a problem can ruin a reputation and severely compromise the ability to practice as effectively and profitably (hey doctor’s are human too) the barriers to access for treatment are raised exponentially, and too often the tragedy of addiction progresses for far too long simply because the perceived costs of recovery are too high.
Let’s face it, addicts can be pretty self deluded, and I did a lot of things while using that I effectively rationalized as acceptable at the time that I now look back at with shame and regret. If we penalize doctors excessively for seeking treatment, and additionally, allow them too easy access to the kinds of substances likely to cause abuse, we are far too hard on those in our society dedicated to healing the rest of us. Now there are some solutions available, and some states allow for confidential treatment and recovery without the suspension of a medical license (a very controversial allowance) and there are private and confidential rehabs available, but far better I would argue is to change the circumstances that lead to abuse, rather than acting after the fact.
Let’s take anesthesiologists, these doctor’s with continual and abundant access to the some most potent and addictive of substances, are among the most likely of all doctors to suffer from addiction. There however do exist programs for doctors with substance abuse histories, that allow them to continue working, and prescribing the drugs as needed, but do not allow them to ever actually handle the medications themselves. Instead of waiting for an all too common addiction to occur, why not simply place these same restrictions on all doctors, even before the first sign of trouble.
While any restrictions to access undoubtedly complicate the practice of medicine, the fact that these programs are ever functioning suggests to me that this burden of restriction is not unreasonable or unworkable. Perhaps the cost of a small inconvenience during the practice of medicine is offset by the knowledge that by restricting access to drugs, we greatly reduce the probability of addicted doctors, and the probability of intoxicated and compromised doctors performing procedures on the unaware general public.
I’m not a doctor. I’m sure I don’t fully understand the stresses that lead to prevalent abuse, nor do I understand the day to day realities that seem to allow for the easy access to drugs of abuse.
- Perhaps doctors at all levels need to be somewhat more removed from the drugs they prescribe.
- Perhaps the pharmaceutical company practice that gives doctors unaccounted for free samples of medications should be abolished.
These initiatives should surely come from within the medical community, and medical professionals would no doubt be far more able to offer worthwhile and workable suggestions. But I feel that something should be done, and that any arguments that suggest that restrictions to access limit the ability of doctor’s to practice effectively should be evaluated against the statistics of abuse within the profession, and the certainty that with so many doctors addicted to the drugs they prescribe, the public’s health is surely at risk to intoxicated and compromised doctors performing irresponsibly.
Doctor’s are human too, and I feel that they need protection from drugs just as the rest of us do. They may be very smart, very educated and very capable, but addiction doesn’t discriminate, and they remain as fallible and vulnerable as the rest of us.