Dentists are just like other people and they can sometimes wander down paths that lead them into dangerous addictions. No dentist ever went out and intentionally became addicted – it is always a series of unfortunate events and decisions that spiraled into an addiction. For dentists it can often start from legal use of prescription pain killers.
If you know an addicted dentist, urge them to seek help. Most dentists don’t seek help because they are afraid of losing their license, their practice and their income source. Most states have special anonymous treatment program for dentists just for this reason –the dentist can seek treatment without the loss of their license or public embarrassment.
Knowing an addicted dentist puts us in a difficult position – what do you do when a colleague you know is addicted. Your friend says they will take care of the problem but they don’t. What do you do? I was confronted with this situation and had to threaten to turn the doctor in to authorities unless they voluntarily sought treatment. Luckily for me – that dentist sought treatment and was successful in their therapy.
It is an awful position for you if you know an addicted dentist but it is very important for patient safety and for the long-term health and safety of your addicted dentist friend for you to make sure they get proper treatment. You must act!
Go to your state’s dental board website and look up their addiction or diversion program. Most states have set up mechanisms for addicted professionals to safely seek the treatment they need.
Dr. Corey Gold
President - ACES
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