Aurora Recovery Centre

Fifteen percent of physicians are addicted to the very same drugs they prescribe. Graduating from medical school with a degree to practice science is no small accomplishment. Indeed, every day people put their lives in the hands of doctors, all over the world. Seen as somewhat saintly, doctors transcend average responsibility. However, they are still human, vulnerable to pressure and stress. Who better to choose a course of treatment for a doctor than a doctor himself? Writing ‘bad’ scripts to cover up a self-medicating addiction is common among physicians and doctors.

A recent article in the LA Times by a doctor-addict, now in recovery revealed some startling information.

doctors addicted to drugs

Physician Addiction and Mental Illness by the Numbers

  • Two times or more as likely to commit suicide
  • One-sixth of doctors leave their professions in the height of their careers
  • Sixty-nine percent of doctors abuse prescription medications
  • Doctors in recovery have 70%-80% success rate

According to the World Health Organization, there is a shortage of approximately 4.3 million physicians and other medical professionals worldwide. Doctors today are in short supply. Try making an emergency appointment with a doctor and be met with a month long waiting list. As a result of this shortage, doctors are working longer hours, with a high volume of patients, each day. Recent reforms in health care regulations around the world have left some doctors under financial strain. High stress, pressure from work, feelings of responsibility to family as well as every family that visits can drive a doctor to find some relief. Having the obvious knowledge and capability for providing relief, doctors innocently write themselves a prescription. Accessibility, ease, and supply make a fast-acting formula for addiction.

Treating Doctors’ Addictions

Shame and stigma revolve around addiction for non-medical professionals, making the professional medical treatment of addiction sometimes challenging. A physician addict receives the same criminal scrutiny that other addicts do. Under investigation by state boards and other health organizations, physicians have their licenses taken away and are punished for their illnesses. Some states have specific health services in place to treat medical professional addicts. Addiction should always be met with the same compassion, empathy and bedside manners as any other disease.


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