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How bad is the opioid epidemic among medical professionals?

On Behalf of | Sep 9, 2022 | Firm News

Many Americans may be under the impression that doctors, fully understanding the impact that opioids can have on a person, would be less likely to fall prey to addiction as compared to the general population. However, according to the stats on the subject, this is not true.

Studies indicate that the general rate of substance use among doctors in the US is 10%, which is roughly the same as among the general population. However, the good news is that medical professionals who go into rehabilitation programs for substance use have much better outcomes than the general population. According to WebMD, a medical professional’s rate of recovery is roughly 80% at 5 years, as compared to 40% for the general population.

Personal use: Not the only problem

Doctors are unique when it comes to issues surrounding the opioid epidemic. Not only are doctors at risk for becoming addicted to opioids, but they also have the ability to dispense opioid medications themselves. Many doctors end up trapped into prescribing opioids by patients who threaten the doctor with exposure if he or she does not continue to provide opioid scripts.

Of doctors who end up in the courts for prescribing opioids illegally, nearly 70% of those doctors plead guilty to charges. Of those 70%, 80% end up serving jail time.

Returning to practice

It is possible for a doctor to return to practice after either addiction to or involvement in selling opioids. However, it is likely that the reinstated license will come with restrictions: for instance, the doctor may no longer have the ability to prescribe medication.

The dangers that opioid addictions present to doctors are very real. However, there is always a path back from addiction.