Drug Rehabs for Healthcare Professionals
Substance use can affect anyone. Individuals who experience continued stressful experiences or have access to prescription drugs, such as healthcare professionals (e.g., nurses, physicians, anesthesiologists, emergency medical technicians.) may be at an elevated risk for substance misuse and developing a substance use disorder (SUD).1, 2
Combined data collected from 2008 to 2012 showed that among healthcare and social assistance workers:3
- 4.4% of reported past-month heavy alcohol use.
- 5.5% reported past-month illicit drug use.
- 5.7% reported a past-year substance use disorder.
If you are a healthcare professional concerned about your substance use, it’s okay to ask for help. Drug rehab for healthcare professionals is available in a variety of settings. This page will help you learn how substance use may affect medical professionals, the available treatment options, and how to find help.
Signs of Substance Misuse in Healthcare Professionals
A substance use disorder (SUD) is characterized by the recurrent use of alcohol or drugs despite substance use causing significant health, occupational, or social problems.4
Although a SUD can only be diagnosed by a professional using the diagnostic criteria provided in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM–5), many signs and symptoms may alert you or a coworker that someone may be struggling with alcohol or drugs.5 Individuals misusing substances or with a SUD may not show all the same signs because SUD presents differently in each person based on factors such as the substance used and the duration of use.
Some signs and symptoms of substance misuse or SUD in healthcare professionals can vary greatly depending on the substance and other circumstances. For example, a healthcare professional struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD) may smell like alcohol. Meanwhile, colleagues may notice medication discrepancies if a healthcare professional is struggling with prescription drug misuse.
Some potential signs and symptoms of substance misuse or SUD in healthcare professionals can include:6, 7
- Absenteeism or being late to appointments.
- Decrease in quality of care or negligent medical decisions.
- Loss of efficiency or productivity.
- Changes in mood, such as increased anger and irritability.
- Smelling like alcohol or being intoxicated.
- Decreased alertness and concentration.
- Constricted (pinpoint) or dilated (enlarged) pupils.
- Disheveled appearance.
- Fatigue or sleepiness.
- Weight gain or weight loss.
Types of Addiction Treatment for Healthcare Professionals
Although SUD is complex, it is treatable. However, no single treatment will work for everyone. Effective treatment is individualized, meeting the overall specific needs of the patient.8
There are many options and treatment settings for treating SUD. Common types of substance use treatment, including drug rehab for healthcare professionals, include:8, 9, 10
- Detox: Detox is not always necessary for everyone in treatment. It is, however, an important initial first step for some individuals. Detox often involves medical supervision to manage acute withdrawal symptoms safely. This can help facilitate the transition into ongoing SUD treatment.
- Inpatient: In inpatient and residential treatment programs, the patient lives at a facility with structured, intensive care. Therapy within inpatient treatment centers may include changing behaviors and thoughts about substance use and increasing healthy life and coping skills.
- Outpatient: Outpatient treatment programs involve patients attending regularly scheduled behavioral health therapy appointments. Patients do not live at the facility so they may be able to attend to other responsibilities at work or home. Outpatient programs typically include individual and/or group therapy and vary in the duration and intensity of treatment.
- Dual diagnosis: Substance use disorders can co-occur with other mental health conditions. Dual diagnosis treatment focuses on treating co-occurring disorders together instead of separately. This can be helpful for patients or healthcare professionals with SUD to receive treatment for 2 or more conditions at the same time, such as treatment for anxiety, depression, or trauma-informed treatment.
Other SUD treatment settings include executive rehab facilities and luxury treatment centers. These types of settings may be of interest and beneficial to healthcare professionals due to their amenities and in some cases, patients can continue to work while also participating in SUD treatment. Some programs offer additional amenities and holistic treatments combined with evidence-based behavioral treatments.
Benefits of Rehab for Medical Professionals
Many barriers make it difficult for healthcare professionals to seek SUD treatment. These barriers may include denial of substance misuse, a belief they can stop using on their own, fears about social stigma and criminal prosecution, and not being sure how to seek treatment.7
However, treatment for substance use can come with several benefits for healthcare professionals. Individuals may notice improved work performance, improved relationships at work and home, increased concentration, mood stability, healthier ways to cope with stress, and returning to a healthy routine.
Finding a Rehab for Healthcare Professionals
If you’re struggling with alcohol or drug use, you aren’t alone. Addiction is treatable and treatment is available at a rehab near you or out of state.
You can treatment by using resources such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s treatment finder Tool. You can also use our directory, where you can filter by location, insurance, and types of treatment. You can call the treatment facility to learn more about the amenities and treatments offered.
For more information on substance use treatment, call American Addiction Centers at to speak with an admissions navigator to learn more about treatment. It’s free, confidential and with zero obligation to enter treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions