Why Dentists Fall Into Addiction (and How to Help Them Out Again)

Addiction can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any given time. Nobody is immune to the ravages of addiction in their lives. This can be especially true for dentists. Their vulnerability to substance abuse is multi-faceted. The dental profession can be an enabling one, with easy access to medications and stress on the job. Long hours spent bent over patients can cause back problems or pain, eventually, and wreak havoc on their marriages, friendships, and personal lives. Many dentists work alone in their practice or own their business, so it can all fall on them to manage expectations, run things properly, and take care of things in a healthy way. Find out more about why dentists fall into addiction and how to support their journey of recovery.

Stress and Addiction

Stress on the job for dentists is a huge reason why some turn to addiction. It comes from the isolation of running a practice alone, not having contact with others all day, or being perceived as people who cause others pain. The dental profession is not for the faint of heart. It requires a huge responsibility to navigate the years of school, the insurance liabilities, and eventually the opportunities to help people in need. Debt is also a huge challenge in that 80 percent of dental students graduating in carrying a small house mortgage in debt. Launching a practice, sourcing equipment, and paying for real estate adds up quickly. Long work hours, few vacations, and time away from family mean there are higher levels of mental health issues in the workplace that dentists rarely are seen discussing.


Alcohol is often the drug of choice for dentists who live with substance use disorders. It is socially acceptable and easy to procure. The high rates of alcoholism along with those in the medical and dental professions should not be surprising for some but is often the reason they struggle in the darkness. Alcohol is a drug of choice for those in the medical and dental professions, with prescription drugs not far behind. Prescription drugs are easily obtained by doctors qualified to prescribe them. Opiates are a main painkilling prescription, often abused by dental professionals because they are around it all day long. There is frequent, smaller exposure to substances like laughing gas or other medications which can lead to abuse of the drug over time.

Treatment Can Help

Dental professionals often feel they cannot step away from their practices to heal from addiction. They do not want to admit they need help for fear of losing their license to practice, losing patients vital to the success of their business, or the stigma of their family finding out. Their family may already know about the addiction and this is just a stepping stone to healing. Dental professionals need support to regain control of their lives and support their professional careers going forward. There is less hope for the future in staying inside addiction. It can cause people to lose their business, licenses, and freedom if they go to jail. There are many consequences to addiction. A treatment center that specializes in treating professional dentists often can help them navigate the challenges of leaving their practice, starting a new one, and finding hope for the future that is drug and substance-free.

The Last Resort provides a safe, supportive environment for men in a retreat-like setting. Nature is an important component of recovery and healing. We treat professionals with respect and support their journey however it looks for them. Call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.