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The British Doctors and Dentists Group

 

Why we were established

The British Doctors and Dentists Group was formed originally for doctors who were attempting to recover from alcohol dependency and other substance abuse over 30 years ago. The late Dr Max Glatt encouraged some of the early members to form a group which met for mutual support on a monthly basis. The group was entirely confidential and had no affiliation to any Government or Official medical or dental body. The early meetings took place at the Royal Automobile Club in Central London and soon moved to the Charing Cross Hotel to accommodate both doctors and dentists. Over the years the membership continues to grow and we now have 17 active groups nation wide with a total membership of some 800 1000 members.

 

Our Aims

Our principal aims are to sustain our own sobriety and to help the still suffering doctor and dentist.

 

Confidentiality

The group is entirely confidential. We regard the group as a secure place for doctors and dentists to share openly. We feel our group remit is only to help sick doctors and dentists and not to monitor or to report to any Regulatory bodies. When introducing ourselves we should only use our first names. We may share where we work or live but the latter is entirely optional. Finally in addition to the comments from Dr Max Glatts letter to the Lancet we emphasise that these meetings are not a form of clinical treatment for doctors and dentists with alcohol or drug problems and should never be regarded as such by anyone attending.

 

A typical meeting

The format of the meeting is that a speaker shares his/her experiences and problems in recovery and the meeting is subsequently opened to the members present to share. After the main meeting we have a cup of tea and biscuits and advice is given to individuals on an informal basis with regard to the GMC, financial problems and In patient treatment should it be required.

 

When to seek help

Help should be sought if there is evidence of loss of control in using the drug of choice. Ideally help before this occurs is beneficial. Escalating use of the drug, change in behaviour and often appearance usually occurs. Failure to turn up for work or appointments and increasing unreliability are all part of the clues. In excessive alcohol use , night sweats, tremors, loss of weight and behavioural problems may be present.

 

How can we help

All our members have been through many of the problems I have described and our recovery rate is high - in the region of 85% non relapse over 3 years for Alcoholics and appears to be equally as good for drug addicts, although up to date figures are not available. 

It does require an acceptance that one must never pick up a drug or a drink in future. Total abstinence is the aim. Often if withdrawal is difficult, admission for detoxification is required and we can assist in arranging this with other organisations. Unfortunately doctors and dentists are very good at hiding their addiction and therefore they are picked up relatively late often having liver complications. We can point the individual in the direction of the Sick Doctors Trust who are able to place individuals in appropriate care.

 

Is there any benefit in obtaining treatment for addiction?

We think there is. Principally it is life saving, secondly self respect is regained and thirdly employment is often retained. If the individual has been suspended he/she can prove to the GMC that they have taken active steps to stop their habit. A doctor or dentist who remains well will always get employment.

It is in the nature of the medical profession not to inform on colleagues and the same applies to dentists. It is important for the life and future health of the individual concerned to bring any person who you may suspect of addiction to the attention of appropriate individuals who are able to act and point the individual in the correct direction. The BDDG is not AA { Alcoholics Anonymous } but many of us do attend this life saving organisation.

 

websites:

BDDG

Sick Doctor's Trust


Ian Joiner, Assistant Secretary London Group

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