Addressing Substance Abuse Among Healthcare Providers

A healthcare provider struggling with drug abuse sits on the floor of the hospital and covers her face.

Being a healthcare provider comes with many rewards. However, between long shifts, lack of sleep, traumatic exposure, and high stress, this industry can create a challenging work environment. Coupled with easy access to prescription medications, it is no surprise that substance abuse among healthcare providers is high. 

Substance Abuse Among Healthcare Providers

In a study, 69 percent of doctors surveyed had abused prescription drugs at least once during their careers. Over five percent of surveyed health care providers had a substance use disorder in a 2012 study.

Substance abuse among healthcare providers happens for a variety of reasons.


Healthcare providers have the best access to prescriptions medications. When a doctor or nurse is feeling tired, under the weather, or stressed about work, they might find that grabbing a prescription is much easier compared to other professionals. Unfortunately, much of the drug problem across America today centers on opioids, particularly illegal opioids. Those who are addicted to opioids usually start with a legitimate prescription. 


Another reason that substance abuse among healthcare providers is so prevalent is the high-stress nature of the job. Working in the healthcare industry requires:

  • Long shift work that has known detrimental effects on sleep, focus, memory, cognition, and mood
  • Highly demanding tasks throughout the workday with elevated adrenaline, especially for those responding to emergencies
  • Exposure to trauma when responding to emergencies or working with severe injuries and death on a regular basis 

Thankfully, those who are struggling with the demands of their job and have developed an addiction can get help. 

Treatment for Addiction Among Healthcare Providers

Despite the fact that substance abuse among healthcare professionals is so high, so too is the recovery rate. 

Seventy-one percent of physicians who get help for addiction remain sober, licensed, and working five years later.

As a healthcare provider, you are often required to maintain professional licenses. These licenses can be suspended if you are caught abusing drugs or alcohol. As a result, it is important that those who are struggling with addiction get help from qualified treatment centers whose programs can help reinstate your required licenses and get you the help you need. 

Providence Treatment for Healthcare Professionals

Providence Treatment offers a special healthcare professional treatment program that can help healthcare providers struggling with addiction find tailored support.

When you come to Providence Treatment for substance abuse, you will undergo a substance abuse evaluation. This will help our team determine the most appropriate personalized care plan for you. 

For example, some clients might have underlying mental health conditions that led to their addiction, and if so, treatment needs to include dual diagnosis treatment with medication and/or therapy for conditions like depression or anxiety. 

After you have received your evaluation, we will work with you to create your treatment plan. Under some circumstances, your employer may require a precise program with a set length of time and types of care. In other cases, we work with you to develop something more flexible. 

During the course of your program, your therapists will work with you to set goals for recovery, and as you meet those goals, we will report back to your employer so they know you are taking actionable steps toward improvement. 

We will work with you to find flexibility in the plan too, so that you can continue working if appropriate, all while getting help. We offer a partial hospitalization program (20 hours per week), intensive outpatient program (nine hours per week), and outpatient and aftercare programs that are vetted and approved for healthcare professionals. We even offer a 12-step program for physicians offered in a cohort setting with other healthcare professionals. 

Overall, substance abuse is a significant issue among healthcare providers in large part due to the demands of the job and the access to prescription drugs. Thankfully, centers like Providence Treatment can offer care tailored to the specific needs of healthcare providers, conforming to the demands of your employer and helping you get back to work.

Reach out to our team to find treatment options across several major cities. 

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