Cover: Drug-Impaired Professionals, from Harvard University PressCover: Drug-Impaired Professionals in PAPERBACK

Drug-Impaired Professionals

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$41.00 • £32.95 • €37.00

ISBN 9780674001749

Publication Date: 05/05/2000


368 pages

5-3/4 x 8-7/8 inches


Dentists drilling under the influence and other members of important professions who indulge in controlled substances are the subject of Robert Holman Coombs’ Drug-Impaired Professionals… Arguing that drug abuse is at least as prevalent among highly regarded professionals as among the general public, Coombs shares the results of three years of interviews with 91 addicted professionals…and he consults the experts who treated them… Inevitably, professionals develop an overly intellectualized attitude, which often combines with a near-pathological need to look cool and collected. Professionals-in-training, even those who specialize in pharmacology, learn very little about the stages of addiction, nor do they learn the coping skills that will allow them to manage stress without chemical aids. Coombs wisely recommends curriculum reform and counseling.—Maria-Caroline Perignon, The Wall Street Journal

Reading and owning Drug-Impaired Professionals would be wise for health professionals because of the great number—lifetime prevalence about 20%—who suffer some form of drug addiction and its consequent personal and professional toll… It is in the work site, plainly visible, that this extraordinary reference belongs—in physicians’ and other health professionals’ offices and in hospital and medical school libraries prominently displayed… Every section is mandatory reading… Every sentence presented important clarifying and useful information… All the professions clearly owe Dr. Coombs and his researchers gratitude for incorporating so much knowledge and technique into an easily readable and caring text, well worth our time, thought, and use in teaching and practice.—Leah J. Dickstein, JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association

The richness of detail Coombs gives enhances one’s understanding of what it means to be an addicted health care provider. More important, [the vignettes about individual professionals] give a vivid sense of what drug impairment may imply for patients. The vignettes from other professions are also powerful examples of how addiction can interfere with job performance… Coombs’s book provides an interesting overview of substance abuse in the ‘professions.’—Patrick G. O’Connor, M.D., The New England Journal of Medicine

The drug-abusing or addicted doctor, nurse or pilot presents specials problems—for themselves, for their families and colleagues, and for the general public who places such faith in the competence of their work… The subject matter of this book is consequently one which will be of interest to policy makers and practitioners, as well as those more intimately involved with, or experiencing, the problems of such impairment. The strength of this particular book is the richness of case history. Each point considered is extensively illustrated with anecdote and testimonial… The book provides something for everybody, whether what you want is serious review of previous studies, or alternatively the personal testimony of an addicted surgeon in recovery.—John Strang, Addiction [UK]

A valuable resource for anyone working in the public arena or who just wants to gain a clear understanding. Coombs provides us with numerous personal—and often eloquent—accounts from highly educated professionals struggling with drug addiction. These give us a unique insight into the dynamics of chemical dependency, its treatment, and the rehabilitation of those suffering from or because of it… It is clear that this publication is the culmination of a great deal of research. It was begun in 1992 when Coombs and his team set out to interview 91 addicted professionals, including physicians, medical students, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, attorneys and pilots. Also interviewed were addiction ‘experts’ and those close to addicts. There are many personal stories and revelations included which shock and inform the reader. Numerous studies are cited and a ‘perspective’ at the end of each chapter pushes points without being repetitive… The overall message I got from the book was that addiction is indeed a sickness that—much like diabetes, cancer, or heart disease—has no respect for wealth, status, or intellect. Irrelevant of the type of drugs used and their withdrawal symptoms, the reasons for use in the first place are amazingly similar and the proven cures commonly agreed upon by the majority of the recovering addicts interviewed. To find out what those are, I recommend you read the book…all of it.—Shelley Comer, The Peak [Simon Fraser University]

Coombs provides a comprehensive review of issues related to the alcohol and drug addiction of professionals. He systematically presents case histories of doctors, dentists, lawyers, nurses and airline pilots to illustrate the nature of addiction among those populations. The description of the developmental dynamics is sensitive to the unique demands of training and employment that results in a high rate of addiction. Similarly, Coombs describes the typical treatment methods and how they apply to specific professional groups. Although focusing on the population-specific factors of addiction, the author presents a current review of the addiction literature that is complete and comprehensible even to professionals who do not specialize in addiction. An excellent addition to a collection of chemical dependency literature and a useful resource for researchers, practitioners, and upper-division undergraduate and graduate students.—D. L. Loers, Choice

Dr. Coombs has done a masterful job. I know of no other single-author text in this field which is as comprehensive. While the book pays proper respect to the twelve-step movement and AA, its strength lies in its scholarly survey of the scientific literature on chemical dependency. This very creditable book could be a best-seller among professionals.—Bernard Levy, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard University

In Drug-Impaired Professionals, Dr. Coombs has touched the heart of the problem—the dynamics of assisting the intellectual, self-willed individual—and offers an answer to it. I recommend this excellent book as top-priority reading to anyone dealing or working with addicted professionals, and to addicts themselves.—Donald Muccigrosso, Senior Program Attorney, Oregon Attorney Assistance Program, former Commissioner of the American Bar Association Commission of Lawyer Assistance Programs

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