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Medical professionals face substance abuse in Tennessee

By Callan Gray, cgray@wcyb.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 07:28:25 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 17 2014 08:58:03 PM CDT

Medical professionals addicted to drugs is a problem nationwide.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -

Medical professionals addicted to drugs is a problem nationwide. We learned it's also affecting our doctors here in Tennessee. The Tennessee Medical Foundation told us 10 percent will be impaired at some point in their career.

It's a problem Johnson City Doctor Stephen Loyd opened up about on the Today Show on Monday.

He told NBC, "at my worst I was doing 100 pills per day, Vicodin mainly."

Loyd said he was still seeing patients and wasn't the only one.

"There are doctors out there right now under the influence of narcotics as we speak," he said.

After that interview, we reached out to Frontier Health's Tim Perry to learn how big the problem is here in Northeast Tennessee.

"I would categorize it as predominant but not huge in this area," he told us.

Perry said that's because medical professionals face more risk factors with a high stress job.

"Also an environment that lends itself to physicians and medical providers having exposure and opportunity to medications," he said.

Perry told us most instances of abuse involve pain killers and medications for depression or anxiety.

The Tennessee Medical Foundation works with healthcare employees in Tennessee who are struggling with addiction. Medical Director Dr. Roland Gray said they see about 40 to 50 new cases of medical professionals abusing drugs or alcohol each year. Gray told us 96 percent of those people will recover and re-enter their field.

Frontier Health's Tim Perry said the road to recovery starts with a question.

"The sooner they seek that assistance, the more likely the success rate will be for them to get on with their life and live a normal happy life," he said.

Perry told it's important to remember substance abuse cuts across all socioeconomic and educational backgrounds.

Frontier Health has three facilities to aid in recovery. You can visit their website for more information.

To reach the Tennessee Medical Foundation for help, you can call (615)-467-6411 or visit their website.