Colorado Dentist Infects Patients With HIV and Admits Drug Addiction
A Colorado Dentist, Dr. Stephen Stein, voluntarily relinquished his dental license after publicly admitting to his drug addiction problem and possibly infecting patients with HIV along the way. Dr. Stein had been using the prescription pain killers, Vicodin and Vicoprofen, while practicing his dentistry on thousands of patients. The Dentist actually had been seeking substance abuse treatment as far back as 1998. The Doctor had been reportedly reusing contaminatied dental equipment resulting in 8000 of his former patients being requested to get tested for HIV and Hepatitis viruses, three have tested positive so far. A strange correlation, but when dealing with the irrationality and unmanageability of a drug addict, it is certainly not a surprise!
The Blind Affliction
This story is certainly indicative of the tragic fact that drug and alcohol addictions do not discriminate. Dr. Stein, reportedly asked patients to bring their pain medications (that he prescribed) with them to dentist appointments, and apparently fleeced various amounts of pills while the patients were distracted. This would definitely qualify as an abuse of professional integrity and authority. While under the influence, Dr. Stein also consolidated unused portions of IV medicines and reused them along with recycled needles on patients. While this may seem like a deviation, the prevalence of addiction in the professional medical world is no aberration.
Take Two and Call Myself In the Morning?
“Every day it was like waking up being possessed by a demon.” These are the words of another professionally licensed medical doctor who has gone through the afflictions of drug abuse, now having over 10 years of sobriety. This notes a culture of “work hard and play hard” among medical professionals, many of whom put in 24 to 48 hour work days, and sometimes longer. A doctor even noted the availability of amphetamines in the doctors’ lounge to chemically facilitate the long hours. It should go without saying that availability of narcotics to doctor’s is almost as simple as walking into a supermarket with a lot of credit. Circumventing the red tape to score controlled substances is next to nothing for a doctor who wants them.
This leads to the questions that everyone who struggles with substance use must ask themselves. Because no one is immune to the allure and draw of the euphoria of drugs, caution must be always practiced. Drawing an analogy that levels the playing field, the doctor interviewed above said “when it comes down to it, we are not different than the poor addict who lives on the street…” He said he is just as vulnerable and must take the same steps to fight addiction as anyone else. The stigma around drug addiction and alcoholism has to be smashed, the more society is aware and educated about the disease of addiction, the more people will seek help without fear. There are plenty of addiction treatment programs out there for professionals, anyone who is seeking help for their addiction should have the opportunity to get well.