Gainesville, Fla. – Michelle Markant is a registered nurse working as a research coordinator on a major medical study. But for two years she lived a secret life addicted to painkillers.
"It was the first thing I thought about in the morning, did I have enough to get through the day?'" she said.
The painkillers were originally prescribed to her for a shoulder injury.
"Nobody had any idea what I was doing. I had been writing and calling in my own prescriptions for opiates for about two years," said Markant.
The American Nurses Association estimates six to eight percent of nurses misuse drugs or alcohol to an extent that it impairs their performance at work. Emergency room nurses are three and a half times more likely to abuse drugs than general practice nurses. Oncology nurses are two times more likely to binge drink. Markant was arrested, lost her nursing job and eventually her six kids.
"It was one of the hardest days of my life," explained Markant.
She spent 100 days in a rehab program.
"Treatment contrary to what most people think, isn't just about not doing drugs, it's to help them develop a design for living if you will, to help with the difficulties that we know life gives all of us," said Scott Teitelbaum, M.D., an addiction medicine expert at Florida Recovery Center in Gainesville.
Markant's been off of opiates for two years. She's back to being a mom again and hopes to return to nursing.
"My life is tremendously better than it was before," said Markant.
A study conducted by Cicala estimates 12 percent of doctors are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Emergency medicine and anesthesiology are the highest-risk specialties among doctors.