Addiction is a disease that none of us asked for or deserve. It is NOT self-inflicted, as some would suggest. However, addiction is a unique disease in that the person afflicted is generally responsible for his/her own long-term treatment. Who is better suited to that task than a physician? We physicians are trained to utilize whatever resources are necessary to properly treat our patients, and I challenge you to use that same dedication to treat yourself.
Once you leave a treatment center, you are in charge of your own recovery. You are calling the shots now, though you do so with the guidance of the Missouri Physicians Health Program (MPHP) staff and many others. Your professional future, and maybe even your life, depends on the success of your treatment of your most important patient, yourself. Therefore, I suggest that you utilize ALL resources to your advantage. Please don’t minimize the importance of your responsibility by making the minimum effort to satisfy the MPHP and/or the Missouri Board of Healing Arts.
Obviously, attending AA meetings is important, but it’s not enough. Find a good sponsor and talk or meet frequently. Work the steps! That will ultimately lead to the 12th step and your efforts to help others, possibly as a sponsor. Read recovery literature! Every time I read the Big Book or other AA literature, I learn something new or feel that I achieve a better understanding of the process. Utilize the internet for literature, advice, and online meetings. Attend the MPHP group meetings and actively participate. Consider enlisting the help of a professional therapist. Talk with your family and friends about your recovery. Spend leisure time with others in recovery. Get involved in your community. Exercise regularly. Work to improve your career performance. Let’s not forget the benefits of prayer and meditation. Do whatever it takes to keep your mind on task and relish in the benefits of sobriety!
Each one of you will have your own special resources and your own priorities for them. My point is that you should not limit yourself to just a few. For example, an oncologist would not use a single chemotherapy drug if a three-drug combination were known to be more effective. You would not limit your treatment of a patient if other good options were available, would you? Why on earth would you limit treatment of yourself?
Physician, heal thyself.