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Why Dentists and Oral Surgeons Are at High Risk for Substance Abuse

High Substance Abuse Among Dentists and Oral Surgeons

Several factors contribute to dentists being at risk for substance abuse and addiction. With a high demand for perfect performance, the isolation of running a practice and business, and access to controlled substances, turning to substances as a form of relief may be tempting.

Factors that contribute to substance abuse in the dental and oral surgery profession include: 

  • Isolation
  • Profession-related low self-esteem
  • Access to controlled substances
  • Depression due to work/life balance stressors
  • Demands to be precise; perfectionism
  • Burnout and overwhelm

Because many dentists and oral surgeons run their own businesses, stressors they face are often unique to business owners. Dentists and oral surgeons often face the dual demands of practicing as a professional and managing a dental practice. For this reason, contributing factors that may lead to substance abuse issues among dentists and oral surgeons include but are not limited to the following:

  • Managing a solo practice
  • Patient dissatisfaction, anxiety, or fear
  • Dental insurance issues
  • Government regulations and encroachment
  • Missed appointments
  • Missed time with family and loved ones

The dental field requires precision, focus, and a pristine environment. It is not uncommon for those in the dentistry and oral surgery field to exhibit symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD may be a preexisting disorder or cooccur with other preexisting mental health disorders.

Substance Use as a Stress Remedy

Dentists and oral surgeons often turn to alcohol and other substances to relieve stress and pressure. Because alcohol is socially accepted and easy to access, it is believed to be the most abused substance. However, other commonly abused substances among professionals include opiates, benzodiazepines, and illicit drugs.

It is suggested that drug abuse may even begin as early as dental school where stress is high, and coping is new and unfamiliar.

Discrete, Personalized Addiction Treatment for Dentists

It is common for dentists and oral surgeons, among other healthcare professional, to hide substance abuse issues or refrain from seeking help for fear they will lose their professional esteem, dental practice, or their license. However, it is critical to understand that seeking help is on-reportable.

At Fifth Avenue Psychiatry, the team of Manhatan addiction professionals and psychiatrists provide discrete, personalized, and professional addiction and substance abuse therapy for dentists and oral surgeons. Dr. Glazer has been recognized as a Castle Connolly Top Doctor since 2015 and is featured yearly in New York Magazine’s Best Doctors issue.