Healthcare Professionals and Substance Abuse

Fans of the television show "ER" will recall how Dr. John Carter became dependent on pain medication that was legally prescribed to treat pain from a nearly deadly attack he experienced in the emergency room. His dependency drove him to steal drugs from the hospital to feed his addiction.

"ER" is fiction, but its depiction of a healthcare professional becoming a substance abuser is well founded as up to 15 percent of overall addiction to opioids have been attributed to healthcare professionals for more than 130 years. Many healthcare professionals who become drug abusers feel they can self-medicate without becoming addicted because they know when to stop taking the medication. Craving for the drug quickly overshadows their critical thinking.

Healthcare professionals self-administer drugs for a number of reasons.

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