Addiction and substance abuse affect people all over the UK. However, many wrongly assume that these are illnesses that only affect people from certain backgrounds. There is a certain stigma associated with addiction, and many people stereotype addicts as being from poor, working class areas. However, addiction affects individuals from all walks of life. In fact, a number of Scottish NHS staff have been disciplined, suspended or sacked because of drug and alcohol abuse.
Substance abuse was the cause of approximately eighty medical staff being banned temporarily from their duties, and another fifty-four faced disciplinary action. Around twenty people were sacked from their positions due to issues with drugs and alcohol, and around fifty were offered help in overcoming their addictions.
The above figures were revealed under the Freedom of Information Act, but it is thought that they represent a fraction of the real problem.
The General Medical Council, which is the regulatory body for the medical profession, hears around one hundred cases from all over the UK each year, but a support organisation for medical professionals believes that this is a major issue that is being brushed under the carpet.
A 2010 study discovered that as many as sixteen per cent of doctors had an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or both. Fifteen thousand doctors admitted to having struggled with addiction at some stage during their working life.
However, there are fears that the figures for Scotland from 2009 to 2014 do not reflect reality due to a lack of research in that country.
A spokesperson for NHS Scotland insisted that treatments, surgeries, and planned appointments were in no way affected by any of the incidents involving medical professionals, as appropriate cover was always arranged.
A spokesperson for the GMC said that only in the most severe cases would they get involved. He said, “It’s important to mention that in general, if a doctor is able to manage a health problem and maintain a good level of care for their patients, then there is no need for us as their regulator to get involved.”
However, he did point out that they would need to be aware if the health condition of one of their medical professionals could affect patient safety.
A spokesperson for the British Doctors and Dentists Group said that those who are unable to work because of health conditions such as the flu would get sympathy and help to recover. However, she said it was completely different for those who suffered from addiction problems. She said, “You are immediately a disgrace.”
She pointed out that, because of the stigma attached to addiction, it is difficult for medical professionals to admit they have a problem. However, she said that those in the medical profession who do seek help for addiction tend to have a great deal of success in their recovery. Nonetheless, she added, “However, if you are suspended and facing an inquiry, the stress of the situation is horrendous. Doctors often feel they’ve let the whole profession down and struggle to see beyond the shame they feel it has brought on everyone.”
Addiction can affect anyone, but there are treatments available. If you are suffering from addiction, Rehab Helper can help you to find a suitable treatment provider in your area. We work with both public and private organisations providing treatments for all types of addiction. For more information, contact Rehab Helper today.