CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE
by Dr. Bill Kane
Written Fall 2008
In the dental profession, “The Conspiracy of Silence” is still very prevalent when looking at addictive diseases, chemical dependency or Well-Being issues. Practicing dental professionals need to understand these diseases in order to adequately treat patients that are either suffering from or in recovery from these conditions.
The disease of chemical dependency is a complex primary, chronic progressive disease, that if left untreated could lead to the person’s death. Dentists and dental hygienists may also suffer from addictive diseases such as alcoholism or chemical dependency as well as other physical or psychological disorders.
A dental colleague or staff member may work alongside someone day after day totally unaware that the person is dying, struggling to cope with a chronic progressive disease called chemical dependency. The individual with the disease is in denial that his or her chemical use is causing problems in their personal or professional life, and generally not capable of asking for help. Sooner or later the individual’s behavior becomes obvious to colleagues or staff members.
The colleague or staff member is faced with two choices. The first choice is to confront the individual or have an intervention concerning his or her behavior related to chemical use. Unfortunately this choice is not taken for a number of reasons. Generally a colleague or staff member begins to rationalize that, “It’s none of my business” or “I am not my brother’s or sister’s keeper.”
When the first choice is not taken, the second choice of saying or doing nothing creates “The Conspiracy of Silence.” This choice allows the natural progression of the disease to take its toll on the individual with a chemical dependency. In most dental offices it is very easy for a staff to become isolated as an individual’s chemical dependency progresses thus allowing “The Conspiracy of Silence” to continue.
Most dentists and dental hygienists know a professional colleague who is suffering from the disease of chemical dependency. The suffering colleague may be in one’s local area or even a classmate in a different corner of the state. Indications that a professional colleague may have a chemical dependency are not difficult to notice.
The good news is “The Conspiracy of Silence” can be eliminated. Dentists and dental hygienists suffering from chemical dependency respond very well to adequate treatment. Since 1982, hundreds of dental professionals have utilized the resources of the Well-Being Program and are enjoying rewarding and productive personal as well as professional lives.
If you are concerned about a professional colleague, break “The Conspiracy of Silence,” pick up the phone and call Rebecca Mowen, the Program Director for the MDA’s Well-Being Program at 314-435-1101. The phone call and the information shared with the Program Director is strictly confidential. Your phone call may save your colleague’s personal and professional life.
Dentists and dental hygienists suffering from chemical dependency respond very well to adequate treatment. Since 1982, hundreds of dental professionals have utilized the resources of the Well-Being Program and are enjoying rewarding and productive personal as well as professional lives.
The good news is “The Conspiracy of Silence” can be eliminated.