As a child, I watched my father battle with alcoholism and vowed that I would not follow the same path. However, the path of addiction presented itself during college in the form of alcohol and marijuana use on the weekends. In dental school, the pattern of social use and abuse continued. During my junior year of dental school a classmate introduced me to 5 mg Valium pills. Combined with a few beers, the Valium took the stress of attending dental school away and would continue to do so while running my private practice in a small rural community.
While continuing to practice and abuse drugs, I attended a continuing education course and learned alcoholism and drug addiction were diseases. Additionally, I discovered there are resources to help dentists with addictions get the help they need.
However, I placed this information aside and continued down the addiction path until it got to the point that I needed help. I remembered what I had learned at the continuing education course. I began working with a dentist who was in recovery. He enabled me to choose a different path…a path into recovery.
Part of my recovery involves assisting other dentists and dental team members in the same way someone helped me. It’s important for dental team members to know that help is available and that adequate treatment does work and as a result dentists’ personal and professional lives are restored.