Surrounded by medication that can easily be accessed, doctors and other medical workers are in a very precarious situation, making them all the more prone to drug addiction.
In the past few weeks, news broke out of a nurse and a doctor overdosing on stolen drugs. The separate incidents involved a fatal dose of opiate fentanyl. The nurse died while the doctor survived. Dr. Timothy Sutton, a resident in anesthesiology, admitted using medication meant for patients once a week.
These are just some of the cases that highlight the growing problem of drug addiction among medical professionals. A USA Today report on the issue, citing data from the US Substance Abuse and mental Health Services Administration, revealed that more than 100,000 doctors, nurses, medical technicians and health care aides are abusing or have become dependent on prescription drugs.
USA Today interviewed medical practitioners who admitted that the medical community thinks it is "immune" from the disease or is not troubled by it. But investigations by certain hospitals revealed that "drug diversion" is very real and is occurring in medical institutions.
The report revealed that safeguards to detect and prevent drug use in high-risk industries, such as hospitals, are rarely implemented in the industry. Medical practitioners who are caught are also seldom prosecuted or treated.
Perhaps it is an appropriate time for the sector to consider employing programs that prevent and treat drug addiction among its staff.
One such program is BioCorRx's Start Fresh Program,which is a dual approach involving the use of anti-addiction medication and counseling.
BioCorRx (OTCQB:BICX) is a California-based company that is considered a leader in addiction treatment and rehabilitation programs across the United States. Its Start Fresh program uses a proprietary implant containing the opioid receptor antagonist Naltrexone. Naltrexone is a Food and Drug Administration-approved medicine that has long been used to counter opioid addiction. What is different with the program is that is uses an injectable implant, especially designed and made from biodegradable materials by the company.
BioCorRx COO Brady Grainier said the special form of Naltrexone is injected by a doctor in pellet form in the fatty tissue under the skin, in the lower abdominal area. Done in 20 to 30 minutes under local anesthesia, the procedure allows people to return home the same day and miss only one day of work.
The drug is so effective that it takes only two to three hours for them to notice the effects.
"Medicines like Naltrexone are very effective in virtually eliminating those cravings and we have one of the longest lasting implants in the world to help address the cravings. Our implant removes the compliance issue from patients so they don't need to decide to take a pill every day to stop cravings. That's typically hard for them to do. Our implant has been reported to last 6-12 months in most patients, giving them a longer window to work on the psycho-social aspect of the addiction," Grainier said.
This makes the drug especially apt for high-risk industries. With the craving or addiction immediately under control, patients may continue working while working on their psychological needs.
Grainier said that "Once they are done with the procedure, they enter the life coaching phase of the program which includes 15 or more sessions usually over a 6 month period. In those sessions, the life coach helps the patient to develop tools that will enable them to recognize and deal with triggers that would normally cause them to use or drink."
Naltrexone is effective in curbing addiction because it "blocks the parts of the brain that 'feel pleasure' when patients use alcohol or opioids," he added.
The program now has a success rate of 85 percent for patients who have completed the 15 counseling sessions in a six month period. Grainier, however, admitted that addiction can never be cured and can only be managed.
It is in this light that medical practitioners suffering from drug dependence immediately seek help and treatment. Such programs will not only help them improve their lives but also save the lives of people around them. There have been a number of cases where drug diversion by medical practitioners have resulted in accidents harming their patients.