America's doctors are so stressed out that many of them can't make it through their working day without using alcohol or drugs, according to a survey from mental health company All Points North. The company says its survey of 1,000 health care workers found more than a fifth of physicians say they use alcohol or drugs multiple times a day, and 1 in 7 admits to using alcohol or controlled substances at work, the Hill reports. In the wider group of health care workers, many have left the field since the start of the pandemic and 49% say they are "either at their breaking point or looking for new work due to the stress and trauma they endure on the job." Some 40% say they feel anxiety or dread about going to work.
The stats "are troublesome" for health care workers, "but they also highlight a dangerous threat to quality patient care," All Points North says. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned last year that depression and anxiety surged among health care workers during the pandemic and were already increased before COVID hit, the Hill notes. APN says the problem is more pronounced among male health care workers, who are 4.5 times more likely than women to use drugs or alcohol while at work, according to its survey. The company says men are also much more hesitant about seeking help.
Noah Nordheimer, APN's founder and CEO, says many workers are experiencing some degree of PTSD after their experiences during the pandemic—but they are afraid seeking help could lead to their licenses being revoked. "Stigma is the biggest challenge that people have in terms of reaching out for help," Nordheimer says, per Fortune. "With health care workers, a lot of time it’s the state that is stepping in because it’s gotten to a place where their coworkers have identified it or they’ve been caught." He adds: "I think that if people realize just how fragile the whole health care system in the US really is, they would probably be a lot more concerned than they really are." (Read more health care stories.)