We cannot overstate the impact this pandemic has had on our health care providers. When you think about all the stress and pressures these frontliners are going through day in and day out, you can see how a lot of aspects are playing in that are leading to clinical burnout and substance abuse. Yet, we need to recognize that this is just a part of a larger system that’s going on in the individual.

Clinical psychologist and Chief Behavioral Health Officer for the technology-based solutions provider Affinity Empowering, Dr. Michael Tkach, talks about how addiction should be viewed from a larger scope instead of with a reductionistic approach.

Clinical Burnout Fueled By a Sense of Powerlessness 

Dr. Tkach recently conducted research on medical care providers who are providing care to individuals diagnosed with terminal illnesses. What was highlighted in the research was a sense of powerlessness. They feel they have no power to change the course of the etiology of the disease and so they’re left with no other option but to simply manage the disease.

Because they don’t fully understand the disease and where it’s going, the healthcare community takes in tons of stress and pressure. This creates a perfect environment for a feeling of helplessness and clinical burnout. Unfortunately, a growing number of health care providers have resorted to substance abuse. In fact, during the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, alcohol sales increased over 34% from the year prior.

Looking at Addiction Through a Systems-Based Approach

Think of addiction as circles within circles and systems within systems. Think about how all of those factors coalesce and come to a single point to affect individuals. Instead of trying to pinpoint something, think about how to expand the scope and recognize the solution based on multiple data points that are all feeding towards a certain outcome or behavior. These are all interrelated and we have to figure out how to manage them from a larger perspective.

If you want to learn more about addiction in the healthcare community, check out Episode 150: Addiction in the Healthcare Community with Dr. Michael Tkach