Intensive Program for Addicted Doctors

20 million Americans suffer from drug and alcohol addictions. Even when treated with medications and behavioral therapies, a typical person addicted to opioids or other substances relapses multiple times before being able to maintain long-term sobriety. As for physicians, more than 1 in 10 becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol, which is a slightly higher rate compared to that in the general population. Addiction is common among doctors likely due to ‘burnout’ as well as close access to drugs. Therefore, studies are being conducted that involve an intensive program for addicted doctors.

Bradford Health Services is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center located 25 miles north of Birmingham. Bradford treats hundreds of physicians from across the country so that they may receive treatment for addiction and mental health issues without jeopardizing their medical licenses. Bradford also offers treatment programs for other healthcare professionals – including dentists, nurses, pharmacists, and veterinarians – as well as for lawyers, pilots, first responders, and athletes.

Almost all states allow physicians to undergo rehabilitation rather than revoke/suspend their license right away due to drug/alcohol addiction or a mental health issue. Most treatment programs for physicians follow the 12-step process or other similar regimens that require adherence to abstinence. This is because many state medical boards may not allow doctors to practice if they are taking other drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine.

Treatment and Results

Bradford’s intensive program for addicted doctors has a success rate of 70-90%, which is by far higher than the 50% success rate of typical programs offered to the general population. Their treatment and recovery programs are effective because of its rewards-based strategy and extensive follow-up care that comprises five years of monitoring and drug testing. The ultimate reward is that doctors can keep their licenses if they avoid relapse and maintain sobriety. If a physician relapses after treatment, his/her license may be suspended, and if the relapse raises concerns of patient endangerment, his/her license may be revoked. Physicians who have been addicted to drugs or alcohol, but then complete a rigorous treatment and monitoring program are better equipped to handle stress and less likely to endanger patients. To read more about monitoring programs like this one, see the source article at the Washington Post website.

Clearly, addiction among physicians is a major issue. However, examining an intensive program for addicted doctors shows that recovery is possible. At Hayver, individuals suffering from addiction are connected to the resources they need to reach recovery. For more information, contact info(at)