Wellbeing Committees Important To Patient Safety

Many doctors don’t understand that success rates for treatment of addiction are equal to, and often higher, than success rates of other medical disorders. If you’re a professional under monitoring, your success rate [for recovery] can be up in the 90th percentile. With diabetes, you might achieve 25 to 33 percent,” according to Michael Fishman, MD, a nationally recognized expert in addiction treatment.

Substance abuse in health care providers is not a topic often recognized or discussed by the general population. USA Today reviewed state and federal records and identified hundreds of cases in the past few years in which physicians and other health care practitioners were disciplined or prosecuted for misconduct related to substance abuse. The problem is real and hospitals and medical groups are dealing with the issue on a regular basis.

Physicians struggling with substance abuse problems typically do not seek help due to fear of career-ending consequences. Many hospitals have Wellbeing Committees designed to offer structured support to physicians who have been identified, or who have self-identified, as having drug and/or alcohol problems.

These committees offer important benefits to medical personnel as alternatives to discipline can be used, when appropriate. Patient safety is improved by early intervention and monitoring and physicians can successfully return to caring for their patients.

The Importance of Family Recovery

In 2000, Stephanie Brown published her ground-breaking book The Family Recovery Guide: A Map for Healthy Growth. She wrote about the paradoxical situation in which “the unhealthy state of alcoholism, with its unpredictability, anxiety and danger, is often normal for the family while the beginning of a committed process of recovery is experienced as an unsettling disruption. Abstinence, the longed-for magical solution to the family’s problems with alcoholism, actually brings its own massive turmoil, chaos and uncertainty.”

This paradox is present whenever any individual moves from addiction to abstinence. When the individual is a physician, whose career and license to practice medicine is on the line, the process is even more intense.

At her institute The Family Recovery Project, Browns’ research demonstrates that the single most important factor contributing to long-term recovery for individuals and families is in reaching outside of the family for help. The most widely known support for recovery is AA & Al-AnonFamily recovery is built on a foundation of individual recoveries. While we understand that needing help is part of being human, it is challenging to ask for it.

At the 2016 Western Doctors In Recovery conference next February in Carmel Valley, the program will include the family recovery and Al-Anon meetings each day.

National Recovery Month Applies To Physicians and Surgeons

National Recovery Month promotes the multitude of benefits that come with prevention, treatment, and recovery for substance use disorders. Individuals of all types come together to celebrate their recovery and to appreciate the contributions of treatment and service providers that assist them in returning to healthy, productive lives. The month was created by SAMHSA to promote the message that recovery in all its forms is possible and available to those who desire it.

Physicians who are struggling with addictions often find it challenging to admit they need help. A major barrier to asking for help is the fear of losing their license to practice and the livelihood attached to it. Another obstacle is that physicians often self-diagnose and self-medicate, which is not a workable scenario when it comes to addiction. Like the general population, dependent doctors rarely succeed in going it alone when deciding to stop.

Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover. It connects individuals to one another for support and encouragement.

In February of 2017, a group of physicians will convene for the third annual Western Doctors In Recovery conference in Carmel Valley. We invite you to learn more HERE.

Connecting Doctor To Doctor and Peer To Peer

Recovery signThe planning committee for the WSHCPG is pleased that so many have chosen to attend this gathering. Hearing stories from peers restores a positive outlook and helps to inspire a strong commitment to a life of recovery. A life that embraces personal and professional growth, that includes and embraces family and emphasizes self-care.

Issues that are particularly relevant to physicians, dentists, veterinarians and other health professionals will be at the forefront of the conference; in the formal presentations, in the AA & Al-Anon meetings and in the informal gatherings that naturally evolve in this environment. Friendships will be made, connections will be strengthened and learning will take place.

We have a chair for you if you don’t want to miss out. Check out our website here. If you’re already registered, you’ll receive a letter early next week providing all the details we think you’ll need to make arriving and staying at the Crowne Plaza in Redondo Beach easy.

We appreciate the donations many of you have made to the scholarship fund.
Thank you for your generosity. 

Fifth Reason to Join Us at the WSHCPG Conference in Rendondo Beach, CA.

29f758f3-0855-49a6-824d-8866d9a286ffA crucial element of recovery is working the 12th Step by carrying the message to those who are still suffering. Attending the conference will serve individuals who are just getting used to the idea that they have an active addiction, those who are in treatment or newly returned to their workplace. The WSHCPG Conference offers an ideal format to network informally with others who are further down the road. It also makes it effortless for health professionals in the Western Region to deepen their connections with one another.

Our theme for the AA portion of the conference is The Promises of Recovery – A Scientific Look from Personal Perspectives. There will also be Al-Anon meetings and a panel discussing The Importance of Family Recovery.

Please consider making a donation to support this opportunity for sharing and to make scholarships available. We’ve made it easy to do so when you register HERE.

We need your help to carry the message to all who would benefit. Please download this FLYER to distribute as you see fit.

Conference Scholarships Available For Doctors In Recovery

WSHCPG is pleased to announce that we are able to award a limited number of complimentary registrations to doctorate-level health care professionals in recovery from addiction. The conference is scheduled for February 19-21, 2016 in Redondo Beach, California.

To be considered, send an email with your request providing background information about your current situation and a statement about why there is a need for a scholarship. Include your full name and degree, complete mailing address, and phone number where we can contact you for a brief interview.

Send the email to WSHCGP@gmail.com by February 12, 2016.

You can expect a response within three days.

Thank you to the donors who made it possible to offer these scholarships. California Society for Addiction Medicine is sponsoring one registration.

Read the 2016 Conference Program here.

Letter from Harry H.

Dear Healthcare Professional In recovery, or better, Brothers and Sisters,

My first experience with other Healthcare Professionals in recovery was my first IDAA meeting in the desert in 2001. I was amazed that I was not the only physician with a chemical dependence in the world, and the magic of walking into that room lives with me each day. But every year back in New England, I attended a small group called the New England Professionals Group. It was basically a regional IDAA meeting that was three days long and where a small group of intimate friends gathered with families to celebrate recovery. I took this idea to the founding members of our WSHCPG Group and it evolved into our first meeting last year at Redondo Beach.

As anyone who attended will tell you, the magic of a concentrated recovery renewal weekend cannot be over emphasized as one of the greatest strategies for a lasting and strengthened recovery program. Our wonderful organizers have made this a CME event, so credit and deductions may apply to anyone who participates. [Read more]

Harry L. Haroutunian, MD

4th Reason to Join Us At WSHCPG Conference

Recovery signIt’s now official. The educational presentations at the conference have been approved for CME credit through CSAM. From February 19 through 21, leading experts in the field of addiction and recovery are presenting on cutting edge topics; from naltrexone to meditation, from medically assisted treatment to PTSD and more.

Please review the full program HERE (The lectures are in bold face type and the AA meetings and speakers are in italics for quick referencing.)


3rd Reason to join Us At the WSHCPG Conference

image021Fellowship is a key component of recovery. Connecting with others who have walked the path successfully uplifts and edifies. That’s what Western States Health Care Professionals Group is for We have confirmed our AA speakers for the retreat and are pleased to let you know we have a stellar slate of recovering doctors lined up to share their experience, strength and hope. Speakers are Paula B., Jerry C., Sheila T., Mark H., Harry H., S.J., Renee K., Raymond L., Steve O. and Mike R.

Join us in February to mix and mingle with others who share a common purpose and who have successfully navigated the challenging, wondrous and rewarding journey that is recovery from addictions. We’re saving a chair for you.

2nd Reason To Join Us At WSHCPG Conference

We have assembled a group of excellent speakers who will address the myriad complex and emotionally-charged issues surrounding physicians and other doctorate level professionals in recovery. We’re pleased to announce that the keynote speaker on Saturday night is Mike Robbins, a practicing internist who became sober some years ago and has stayed involved with recovery in general and recovering healthcare professionals in particular.

He lives quietly on the gulf coast of Mississippi with his first wife and together they report that watching it snow on the weather channel during the winter is a favorite pastime. His friend and colleague Harry Haroutunian has this to say about Mike:

 “Mike is a phenomenal speaker with a great story. We’ve been friends for years and I haven’t tired of listening to him yet. He’s a great addition to your conference.”


     Western States Health Care Professionals Group
2nd Annual Conference
February 19-21, 2016
Redondo Beach Crowne Plaza Hotel

Register now online.