Impact of drug abuse/dependence on dentists

Eric Y.K. Fung, Brian M. Lange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


It is important for all dental personnel to know and understand the risk factors of alcohol and drug addiction. It also is important to understand when a dentist or staff member is under stress. There can be a fine line between looking for symptoms of use and observing uncharacteristic behavior; however, health care providers who are aware of the symptoms of drug and alcohol use can confront addicted colleagues with confidence and in a non-judgmental, supportive manner. One should be prepared to deal with denial, anger, and threats, not only from the person being confronted, but also from enabling fomily members and/or staff. If the addicted dentist is in such denial that he or she refuses to listen, it may be necessary to contact a state well-being committee to break down the barriers that lead to addiction. If all of these attempts fail, concerns can be brought to the state dental board. Once a person with an addiction accepts the presence of this disease and expresses a desire to change, treatment can begin. Treatment should be designed for each individual by professionals with experience in treating drug and alcohol abuse. The design of each program depends on the patient's level of addiction and compliance, the family's willingness to send the addict into therapy, the availability of people who can hold the individual being treated accountable for his or her actions, and the accessibility of organizations that can provide counseling to the addict and his or her family. Treatment that involves accountability and support will require a lifetime of work. Individual and/or family counseling may be necessary for a prolonged period of time. Only through awareness and the willingness to get involved as professionals will it be possible to help addicted health care providers receive the treatment they need to overcome their disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)356-359
Number of pages4
JournalGeneral dentistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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