You have this friend/co-worker/boss who is acting strangely. Maybe you have smelled alcohol, or suspect they are under the influence of something but you’re just not sure. Perhaps they just seem angry or distracted more now than they used to. Maybe other people in your office have noticed it too, and you are all working together to compensate for this person’s work behavior. The longer the behavior goes on, the more it will progress. What you may be experiencing is dysfunctional family dynamics in the workplace, and your friend needs someone to be strong enough to make a tough call. If you are not sure of the signs, call us and we can discuss them with you.
Normally callers remain unknown to the person needing help. To take a call seriously, however, we will have to have somebody’s name. You can either provide your name and relationship to the professional needing help, or the name of a person whom we can contact who has first-hand knowledge about the situation and would be willing to discuss. It is also helpful if there is at least one other person who is willing to discuss this situation.
If your friend is suffering from addiction or alcoholism, this will not resolve itself on its own. People with this disease are initially not happy to be confronted, but proactively involving the NC Caring Dental Professionals (NCCDP) is the best way to get much needed help. NCCDP is an advocacy organization. Our goal is to get Dental Professionals the help they need while preventing a career from being destroyed or a professional reputation being damaged.
When you take the critical first step to secure help for your friend or co-worker, you will need to be prepared to provide some information. As obvious as it may seem, sometimes callers are hesitant to provide the name of the person they are calling about, but we can’t move forward getting your friend the help they need unless we first have his/her name. Please be prepared to give examples of why this person appears to need assistance. As stated before, you will also need to provide your relationship to this person and if possible referral to another person who can corroborate or elaborate upon your information. As much information as you can give is helpful for us to assess the urgency of your friend’s situation.
Once we have the information we need, we will assess the urgency of the situation for your friend/co-worker. We will contact them and discuss the concerns that have been shared with us. We will then determine the next steps needed to start your friend on the road to health and recovery.
In many situations the professional must go for a professional assessment and treatment. There are several options to assist the practice in continuing with business as usual until the individual is able to return from treatment. We know many NC Dental Professionals who have experience in this area who would be willing to share their knowledge to assist in a smooth transition.
Addiction is a disease that generally requires professional treatment. Even if the professional is able to temporarily suppress the symptoms of the disease, remaining well can be a monumental challenge. The underlying causes and issues need to be addressed for long-term health and well-being. The kind of help your friend/co-worker needs requires a great commitment, and crossing those boundaries could jeopardize your current relationship with your friend/co-worker. The best help you can give would be to make the call, then be a strong support to your friend.
The NCCDP promotes overall well-being for Dental Professionals in the state of North Carolina. In addition to drug and alcohol problems, we have helped Dental Professionals get assistance with emotional and mental health issues such as career burnout, co-dependence, anger management, depression and personality disorders.
This disease does not cure itself. It is a progressive disease that spirals out of control if not treated. It is also important to note that long term exposure to certain drugs can cause irreparable brain damage. We have encountered professionals who were referred to us for assistance, only to find that the help came too late to save a career. What if someone had made the call sooner rather than later?
I was on my way home from drug treatment. I had my cell phone in my possession for the first time in a while. The phone rang. It was my ex sister-in-law, a relative with whom I had a drug relationship. I answered.
“Where have you been?” she asked.
“I am on my way home from rehab,” I told her.
“What in the world are you doing there?”
“Well, I’m clean and planning on staying that way.”
“Well you can’t just leave me out in the cold like that,” She said.
“I got no choice.” We said good-bye.
I got home and my wife (who had been very supportive during all this) asked, “Have you heard from Dee?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Did you tell her that y’all can’t have any more dealings with each other? Have you heard from Cecil (a guy I bought drugs from)?” she asked.
“No,” I said truthfully. Then Dee called and my phone was not on silent. “I can’t talk right now,” I explained.
“Nor ever again,” my wife yelled… Melt down time!!
She was screaming, “How is this going to work if you are talking to the people who supplied you with the thing that got you in trouble?”
I had to remember my counselor saying, “No more secrets!! You have to do the right thing!”
How could I convince her I was sincere? My sponsor had told me, “It is hard to prove innocence!” I needed to stay clean and sober and also to keep a serene household. I couldn’t live like this I told myself.
“I will turn off that cell phone right now and get a new cell with a new number!” I suggested.
This worked and has continued to work. I know that I don’t need secrets in my life and that I need to do what it takes to keep my life on track. Whatever it takes, I need to do!
Some would have described my life as picture perfect. Successful husband, two small healthy kids, beautiful home.
Then that Monday he came home and dropped the bombshell. A state board investigator came to his office today and he would be leaving to go for a three day evaluation for prescription drug abuse. How had that happened? How could I have been completely oblivious to drug abuse? Why had I not seen any symptoms or signs? Yes, he had been taking naps every evening. Yes, he had not been able to do small tasks around the house. But drug abuse? We had a few days to prepare for him to go; figure out what I would tell his family after he left, have a chance to cancel patients, what I would tell his staff. How in the world would I handle all of this when he just left? Disappeared.
I guess that was the bottom for me. That three day evaluation became a month stay. The staff handled the office with few problems and I quickly found, with the help of a local dentist/friend, a retired dentist to come and check hygiene and at least help meet some of the overhead. The staff didn’t ask many questions probably because they knew that something was very wrong. Money was an issue because we were a relatively young practice with significant debt that had to be managed. I was determined to meet payroll and keep our staff if I could find a way to do that. I was fortunate that a relative offered a loan and still didn’t ask many questions. The kids were too young to notice that Daddy was gone. I guess those evening naps made him seem gone to them anyway. Every time I went out in public, I was sure that everyone I saw knew that there was something wrong, so I tended to just stay home.
It still amazes me how people just accept what you tell them and ask very few questions, especially when you have a vague answer ready for the bold ones. It also amazes me how quickly a month passes. He returned from treatment and went back to work and we began to dig out of the financial hole. His time away from the office was occupied by AA/NA meetings and I guess I was glad for that so that I could adjust to him being home and begin to deal with my feelings of anger at the whole situation. Everyone has to deal with issues their own way. Having two small kids to handle, I chose to skip the Al-Anon meetings, but I learned a tremendous amount about the disease of addiction through my husband.
The CDP program was not as organized back then and we did not have the annual meetings which included spouses, but I was dedicated to supporting my husband in doing whatever was necessary for his continued health and sobriety. I don’t remember when the anger disappeared, but it did. The debt was retired. The practice went on successfully. Life returned to normal, but that normal was very different. My husband was obviously healthy and happy to be healthy. Yes, he had to jump through many hoops that I didn’t understand at the time, but now I see the positive results. The end result is absolutely worth it.