Addictions come in many forms, and bear many different levels of social stigma. While needing a jolt of caffeine in the morning might be seen as a mild annoyance, a prescription drug addiction can be devastating. Addictions run the gamut from substances to experiences–overeating and gambling can be just as addictive as hard drugs, and just as damaging to people and families. Addiction is an unpleasant topic, and one most people would rather avoid than face head on, but as stress levels rise with the coming holidays, it’s important to take a moment and talk about this crucial issue.
With caregiving comes stress, and most caregivers are surrounded by a wide variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications. It can be all too easy to fall into the habit of using cigarettes or alcohol to deal with stress, if not harder substances. Prescription drug abuse has risen dramatically in recent years due to the ready availability of drugs, and the perception that because they’re FDA-approved, they’re safe. When it comes to recreational substance use, an occasional drink after work is not necessarily a bad thing, but can you tell if it’s becoming a problem? What about mood-altering pills, or sleep aids? It’s hard to be objective about these things sometimes’
Prescription drug abuse is a serious issue among health care workers, and the only way to change this trend is to be vigilant for signs of abuse. If you pass medications, you’re already familiar with the laws and regulations for medications, but the US Department of Justice offers these reminders:
- You have a legal and ethical responsibility to uphold the law and to help protect society from drug abuse.
- You have a professional responsibility to prescribe and dispense controlled substances appropriately, guarding against abuse while ensuring that patients have medication available when they need it.
- You have a personal responsibility to protect your practice from becoming an easy target for drug diversion. You must become aware of the potential situations where drug diversion can occur and safeguards that can be enacted to prevent this diversion.
They have assembled a very helpful guide that helps you spot the signs of drug impairment in coworkers, and lets you know when and how to become involved if you suspect abuse. You can read the full guide here: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/pubs/brochures/drug_hc.htm
What if you suspect a friend, family member or coworker might have a problem with addiction? This article shows you what you can do to help someone dealing with addiction: http://bit.ly/doynp3
Finally, if you or someone you know needs help immediately, WebMD has a helpful list of crisis resources: http://www.webmd.com/help/crisis-resources
Stay safe this holiday season!