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According to general studies, it is estimated that between 10 and 12 percent of the general population will develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol at some point in their life. Of this group, approximately 12 and 19 percent account for dentists and other medical practitioners. It is widely known that medical professionals are vulnerable to developing a substance use disorder, and the reasons for this are manifold, and always changing. That being said, it is believed that the dental practice itself may be the biggest cause of those in the dental profession becoming addicted to a substance.
Statistics are limited by country; however, the American Dental Association has been researching addiction amongst dentists for many years. According to the ADA, 76 percent of dentists own their own practice. The rate is very similar in other countries including Canada, England, France, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. These professionals are considered to be highly independent and work long hours while hunched over the mouth of a patient. Up to 90 per cent of dentists report chronic musculoskeletal pain because of their work.
The emotional stress from the isolation of operating a practice has also been sited by the United States centres for Disease Control as a contributing factor for suicide. Although dentists are engaging with people every day, they are also viewed as a medical professional who may cause pain. It is very difficult for dentists to build trust and a personal relationship with a patient. This can be emotionally tolling – even though it should not be taken personally.
Finally, depending on the country in which the dentist obtained their degree, they may be in serious debt. In the United States, where college is some of the most expensive in the world, 80 percent of dentists are graduating with an average of $261,149. Launching a practice can cost thousands more. This kind of debt can result in lengthy work hours and very little free time.
To add to these problems, in many countries, there is heavy competition amongst dental practices, as well as thin profit margins. All of these things can be physically and emotionally tolling.
Reports that have been released by the ADA’s Health and Wellness Committee suggest for 37 percent of dentists with a substance use disorder, alcohol is their first choice of drug. Alcohol is socially acceptable and easy to obtain.
Although alcohol may be the primary drug of choice for dentists, prescription drugs account for approximently 31 percent of dentists struggling with an addiction. Opiates, including oxycodone and hydrocodone, are relatively easy to obtain because dentists can prescribe them. Laughing gas is also considerably abused in the dental profession. Apart from these medications, anti-anxiety drugs and sleeping aids are also widely used.
Street drugs are considered to be those that are illegal, and include heroin, meth, and cocaine. It is thought that up to 10 percent of dentists with an addiction will prefer one of these substances.
Risk factors of any addiction, for any population can include a broad range of biological, psychological, and socioeconomic issues. No two people are exactly alike; thus, the factors that cause the addiction can certainly vary. That being said, there are some broad similarities that are included in the biggest risks for developing an addiction.
When it comes to determining the risk of suicide based upon a person’s profession, there has been a correlation between dentists and the proclivity to suicide. This idea is partly from a 1996 study out of Wayne State University. Led by Steven Stack, the professor studied several decades of records of dentists and suicide rates. He found that dentists have a 500 per cent increased risk of attempting suicide than other working professionals. Whether or not this is true for dentists in other countries is unknown as there is no data to correlate this theory.
Substance use disorders can cause an enormous amount of havoc on the family unit. When an addiction is left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to all relationships. This can result in resentment, isolation, and shame on the part of the addict, as well as a sense of hopelessness among the family members.
For loved ones, watching their family member let their life spiral out of control as a result of the addiction can be devastating. These people may also be at risk for experiencing their own mental health problems.
Substance abuse can lead to many different long term health effects. These effects will vary depending on what drug was taken, how it was taken, the amount taken, the length of time it was taken, and the person’s overall state of health. Short term effects may include high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, psychosis, memory loss, and more. Long term effects may include mental illness, liver damage, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease, lung disease, cognitive impairment, and other conditions.
Siam Rehab is a leading rehab in Thailand that reaches out to those in the dental and medical community. We offer an individualised approach to treating addiction, as well as mental health disorders that are commonly a part of a person’s condition. It is our goal to help dentists with an addiction to regain control of their life and restore their professional standing.
Siam Rehab provides specialised care and treatment that includes a medical detoxification, therapy, meditation, fitness and exercise, educational classes, group support, and more. For years, we have been helping men and women to overcome an addiction. Let us encourage you to develop a strong, solidified recovery that can last a lifetime. If you are a dentist with an addiction, and are ready to get help, call our rehab in Thailand now.