Most studies show that 10-15% of the general population will develop chemical dependency at some point in their lives. Estimates for dentists fall generally within that range.
Due to the high degree of variance in the progression of the disease among people seeking treatment, and the differences among the types and intensity of treatment, success rates vary greatly as well. The good news is that one of the highest long term success rates is seen among health care professionals who enter a good 12 step based intensive treatment program with a structured 1-2 year aftercare program, followed by long term participation in a 12 step group, and who face the potential loss of professional license for the first few years of recovery. 5 year success rates among this group can exceed 80%. Dentists helped by Peer Assistance Services have enjoyed an 86% success rate measured over the 3-5 year duration of their DPAP monitoring contracts.
About 96% of addicts and alcoholics die from their disease. Such deaths may be direct results of chemical dependency, such as liver failure, heart disease, auto accidents while driving under the influence. They may also be indirect results, such as falling off the roof while cleaning the gutters, which looked like a 6 beer job. Or suicide following yet another failed attempt at controlled drinking.
Another 1 % develop psychosis or some other permanently debilitating mental disorder. Only about 3% enter recovery, and that is the tragedy. This is a 96% fatal disease that, although not curable, is treatable to a success rate that can reach 80-90%, yet only about 3% of its victims obtain such treatment.
That points out one of the major roles of Concerned Colorado Dentists (CCD); to reach across that enormous gap to the 96% who are dying from their untreated disease.
CCD treats all requests for self help in a confidential manner. We do not reveal such names to the CDA, the dental board, or to anyone else without the dentist's permission. CCD is a safe, confidential source of information and assistance.
The assessment, monitoring, and advocacy of the Dentist Peer Assistance Program (DPAP) available through Peer Assistance Services Inc (PAS) is a valuable resource to a dentist wanting to get help for a chemical dependency problem. Thus, CCD strongly encourages dentists who contact us to voluntarily seek those benefits. We can explain what the DPAP program is like from the viewpoint of dentists who have been through it.
We can also offer suggestions to the dentist and staff regarding response to patient questions about a temporary absence for addiction treatment, about the presence of a practice monitor, and about modifying a practice to reduce stress. If the dentist desires, our members will voluntarily complete procedures and offer appointments to patients who do not want to wait to be seen, if the dentist is temporarily out of the office at a treatment program. We do that at no charge to the dentist, so revenue remains in his or her office.
Perhaps the greatest service we can offer a dentist who contemplates voluntarily facing a drug or alcohol problem is the experience and support of dentists who are a little further down that road.
After CCD receives information about a potentially chemically dependent dentist from at least two verifiable sources, CCD will contact the dentist to describe the nature of the concerns, to relate our own experiences with chemical dependency and DPAP, to describe DPAP, and to encourage the dentist to voluntarily take advantage of the program before he or she hurts someone or experiences serious legal or license consequences. We explain to the dentist that if he or she voluntarily enters DPAP and then someone later complains to the dental board about suspicions of a drug or alcohol problem, the board will look favorably upon the dentist's voluntary participation in DPAP.
In order to appropriately advocate for a recovering dentist, PAS must be able to objectively show the dental board that dentist can practice safely. One of the agreements a recovering dentist makes with PAS is to allow another dentist who has been trained to do so, to monitor the practice of the recovering dentist for a period of time. That specially trained dentist is called a practice monitor. Here are some pertinent definitions:
Monitoree: A monitoree is a dentist who, due to a condition such as chemical dependency, or due to a substandard care problem, is the subject of either a CBDE license stipulation or a DPAP rehabilitation contract.
Practice Monitor: Through regular and random site visits, a dentist Practice Monitor inspects, evaluates, and suggests improvements for the practice of another dentist who is being monitored by the CBDE or DPAP.
The CBDE and/or DPAP uses the reports submitted by the Practice Monitor to assess the monitoree's ability to continue practicing safely during the time of his or her rehabilitation.
Call PAS at 303-369-0039 and ask for the Dental Program Coordinator. Especially welcome are volunteers from outside the Denver area, and volunteers who are dental specialists.