I am getting my PhD in Health Psychology but I don’t always tell people that when they ask. Continue reading
A man who can not control his blood sugar levels (he’s diabetic) comes into a medical clinic with gangrene so aggressive that people in the clinic hallway can smell his rotting flesh. This is the story Dr. Pauline W. Chen writes about in her NY Times Health article, “When Doctor’s Advice is Ignored at Home”.
How does early life stress affect health across the lifespan? This question has intrigued our research team for many years. People who experience early life stress, in the form of poverty, exposure to violence, noise, and other stressors, or who experience a harsh early family environment in the form of conflict-ridden, cold non-nurturant parenting, or neglect, have an elevated risk for illnesses, not only in childhood but throughout the lifespan; their adverse early experiences lead them to develop chronic diseases in adulthood earlier than is true for people who do not experience early hardships. These findings are somewhat mysterious, as it is not immediately clear why stress in one’s early life, during the first decade, would affect risk for illness in one’s 40s or 50s. Using a combination of laboratory experiments, large scale health studies, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and genetics studies, we’ve uncovered several of the reasons why. Continue reading
Physician Health Programs (PHP) are reporting an astonishing success rate when it comes to providing addiction treatment for addicted doctors:
Only about 20% of doctors ever test positive after being admitted to the program within a 5 year period.
More than 70% maintain their license and continue working within the same 5 year period.
These are the kind of addiction treatment results we want!
I’ve been saying for a long time that I believe in the theory promoted by Dr. McLellan, who is now the deputy-director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Doctor McLellan promotes a long-term view of addiction treatment, more like a chronic disease than anything that can be cured in a few months.
I’ve also known for a while that the American Medical Association is supposed to be having great success at addiction treatment for addicted doctors. I’ve been meaning to contact someone at the AMA to find out how they did it. Now I don’t need to thanks to this recent bit of addiction research.
Addiction research on treatment for addicted doctors
A recent research article surveyed the vast majority of PHP’s and found that, not surprisingly, the things that we know work in addiction treatment do indeed produce results. The solution may not be easy, but it’s pretty simple:
- Early detection and assessment brings the addicted doctor, their family members, colleagues, and employers together. Getting the problem out in the open early makes it easier to deal with than having to be secretive about it. The doctors get an option, leave the profession or sign up for a 5 year treatment program to deal with their addiction.
- Formal addiction treatment using the most appropriate and effective treatment centers– In contrast to our criminal justice addiction pipeline, the majority of physicians (69%) receive 90 day residential treatment, while the rest receive intensive outpatient treatment. The PHPs also receive frequent status reports on each physician in treatment to assure adherence.
- Long-term support and monitoring– After treatment, the physicians continue with aftercare that includes 12-step support, regular counseling meetings, and monitoring that includes random drug testing.
That’s it! So simple yet so effective.
As addiction research continues to improve, I’m sure we’ll be able to bring these numbers up even higher than the 70% success rate currently reported. Still, you have to admit, 70% is amazing!!!
So if you want to know how to stop drinking and drugging, do like the doctors do and commit to long-term addiction treatment.
There are obvious differences between most addicts and the doctors in these programs (most people don’t have such a clear distinction between losing their livelihood and getting help), but the solution is most likely very similar.
More proof we need more money for addiction treatment:
We need to press our representatives to increase funding for addiction treatment and addiction research so that we can find the most efficient, yet effective, way to offer this kind of addiction treatment to the general population. By reducing the problems, we’d be able to cut into the $500 Billion a year drag addiction is putting on our economy. The effort will pay back for itself in no time.
DuPont, R.L., Carr, G., Gendel, M., McLellan, A.T., Skipper, G.E. (2009). How are addicted physicians treated? A national survey of physician health programs. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 37, 1-7.