Licensed professionals are not immune to addiction.

The stress that comes with decision making, the compulsion to project success and hide failures, the inability to accept and share true feelings, makes professionals specially vulnerable to addiction. Professionals have a reputation to maintain, an image to project, a license to keep, … and so they are compelled to hide their addiction.

Society places licensed professionals on a pedestal by virtue of their education and training, and our need to completely rely on them. They are expected to have self discipline. They are expected to be above all moral weakness and failings. They are expected to know better, and not use drugs or alcohol. It is unrealistic, and some will fail.

You do not have to live in fear … or suffer; help is available from a doctor’s office, it is private and confidential.

Not dealing with the problem has too high a price. Do not allow the problem to get out of hand, seek treatment voluntarily … before the licensing authorities force it on you.

We have excellent medications available that prevent withdrawal and assist in treatment of opioid and alcohol addiction. These medications are available to you for as long as you need it, and the results are much better than a short term rehab.

For addiction to substances other than opioids and alcohol, … there are no FDA approved medications yet, but your medical provider will be able to make off label use of some medications to ease your withdrawal symptoms.

This treatment is available as an outpatient, from a doctor’s office in your community, … there is no disruption of your professional practice, and no significant side effects that could interfere with your work. Your colleagues will not even know that you are in treatment.

Addiction is not cured by a pill. You will also have to work with a counselor or behavioral therapist to make permanent changes, so that you no longer have to depend on chemicals to handle the stress and strain of your personal life and your profession.


Is the treatment completely private and confidential?

Your medical records are private and are not released without your authorization.

However, medical providers and pharmacists do have record keeping requirements imposed by law, … so your treatment does leave a trail, specially when your treatment involves the prescription of controlled substances.

These prescriptions are automatically reported by the dispensing pharmacist to the State Board of Pharmacy, which maintains a database, spanning several years, and it is now shared with other states. Medical providers do have access to this data, however they are required to keep it private, and use it only for the delivery of health care. Your privacy is assured under State and Federal regulations with certain exceptions that are designed to facilitate exchange of medical information between health care providers.

If you use insurance to pay for your treatment or medications, then they need to know your diagnosis. Your prescription is specific to you and carries your personal information. Your pharmacist knows what this medication is for. All this is still private … but it does leave a trail.

In this age of being connected, nothing is completely private. If you think your drug or alcohol use is completely private then you are mistaken, … and even if it is private so far; it is not going to be private for too long. Any mishap can lead to public disclosure or worse. If you seek treatment now, then you will have better odds of keeping it private.


Self reporting and peer reporting requirements

Licensed professionals, specially medical professionals have self reporting requirements. Your application for privileges requires you to make statements about your mental health and substance use, hospital admissions, legal actions, etc. Providing false information on the application is generally grounds for disciplinary action.

For medical professionals any suspension of privileges of more than 30 days requires to be reported to National Practitioner Data Bank.

Fellow professionals are also required to report other professionals that may be under the influence while providing a service; this requirement is imposed to protect the society. This is another thing that people holding professional licenses have to worry about; … the person reporting you may not have your welfare in mind.

You have worked hard to get this professional license … do not throw it away. Seeking treatment voluntarily before something happens will help you avoid disciplinary action, and prevent tainting your reputation.

If your substance use is discovered following a mishap or complaint, then a disciplinary action gets triggered automatically … with very serious consequences. You will be required to be in treatment, prohibited from working, and when allowed to return to work , … you may be placed under supervision and probation. This process is very cumbersome and expensive, and may stretch to several months and even years.

Why not seek treatment now? The medical treatment is private and confidential. The information is not disclosed to anyone without your authorization.

Many licensing boards have designed parallel programs to help professionals that suffer from substance use disorders. Your conversations with such programs are completely confidential and is not supposed to be shared with licensing authorities. Individuals running those programs are generally licensed professionals who have recovered from similar disorders and are well positioned to help you.


Advantages of my practice

I am a one man practice. I personally answer all my phone calls and text messages. Only I have access to the voicemail. This is the smallest foot print that is possible in a medical practice.

I can set aside extra time for patient visits so that you are the only patient in that time slot, and do not have to sit in the lobby. I can also see you after regular clinic hours, when I am done with my regular patients, and you do not have to make excuses to take time off from work.

This service is only offered to physicians, attorneys, and similarly licensed professionals. There are limitations to this service, and it has a different fee schedule.

Please feel free to call me or send a text message to 469-693-2020. Please do leave a voicemail if I do not answer and indicate that you are calling for a medical appointment. I answer calls up to 7 PM.

If you have been asked to attend a treatment program by your licensing board following a complaint, then, please be advised that my program does not meet the requirements of a treatment program for board purposes. I am not an addiction specialist, I do not have counselors or therapists in my office, and I do not have the mechanism to provide them with urine drug screen reports. You should also retain an attorney to represent you as the mandated treatment has licensing repercussions.


Resources: Off site links.

Tennessee Medical Foundation

Teneesee Board of Medical Examiners link

Tennessee Professional Assistance Program (TNPAP)

Tennessee Nurses Association link

Tennessee Lawyers Assistance Program (TLAP)

Tennessee Bar Association link

 


This page was last modified on: October 10, 2018