Achieving balance in physical, mental and professional health is a challenge for everyone in our society. Chemical impairment – where one’s use of alcohol or other drugs interferes with the ability to function professionally, socially, or in personal relationships – affects one out of every ten persons in the United States. Threats to mental health abound, from dealing with everyday stress to “burning out” and considering career change.
About Concerned Colorado Veterinarians
To assist members of the veterinary healthcare team in dealing with substance use disorders and mental health issues, members of CVMA have formed Concerned Colorado Veterinarians. CCV is comprised of recovering and concerned members of the veterinary community who wish to help others in a return to wellness – before harm has occurred to the individual or the patient, and before practice and license issues arise.
The purpose of CCV is to confidentially assist and provide resources to members of the veterinary community who are concerned about physical, mental or emotional problems in themselves or in colleagues. While CCV members are not professional counselors, they can provide intervention services and help in identifying the type of professional assistance needed.
CCV will encourage members of the veterinary community, about whom caring others have expressed verifiable concerns of impairment, to voluntarily seek professional assessment. A cornerstone of the CCV approach is absolute confidentiality and discretion.
About Peer Assistance Services
Peer Assistance Services, Inc. (PAS) provides services to veterinarians who may be experiencing physical, emotional, psychological, or substance use problems. The Colorado Board of Veterinary Medicine contracts with PAS and the program is funded by license fees.
The program accepts self-referrals and calls from persons who may be concerned about themselves or others. The referral may come from a friend, family member, colleague, supervisor, self, or the Colorado Board of Veterinary Medicine. The calls are confidential and you do not need to give your name or the name of the individual.
PAS works to ensure that veterinarians get the help that is needed so they can either remain in the workforce or re-enter the field safely. Staff is available during business hours as well as after hours and weekends by calling our 24-hour information line (720.291.3209). You can contact us with general questions, concerns about yourself or a colleague, or to obtain community resources. You may also contact PAS because you have some questions around behaviors you have observed while working with a veterinarian, but you are not sure of what to do or what to say.
If you are concerned about someone or yourself and would like information and help, please contact PAS confidentially at 303.369.0039 for information or to schedule as assessment.
In need of help? Contacting CCV is the first step in emerging from a seemingly hopeless trap through a kind, caring and confidential process. If you – or someone your care about – needs help, call Ralph Johnson at the CVMA office at 303.318.0447. Mr. Johnson will connect you to a CCV member who has offered to assist you in the return to wellness.
Peer Assistance Services Testimonial
Reprinted with permission of the veterinarian and Peer Assistance Services.
Dear Peer Assistance,
As a veterinarian and an alcoholic, I cannot stress enough the impact that you have had on my recovery and professional development. When I first came to Peer Assistance, I only had a few months of sobriety. Although I was already active in AA, I was not working as a veterinarian nor did I know any other health care professionals in recovery. I was particularly apprehensive about trying to find a job as a veterinarian since it would be necessary to inform my employer about my alcoholism and resulting contract with Peer Assistance. With the encouragement of Donna Lindsey and the members of my Peer Assistance support group, I obtained the courage and knowledge that I needed to re-enter the workplace. With their help, I have learned not to be ashamed of my disease. I have also come to realize that many other health care professionals, including dentists, pharmacists, nurses and other veterinarians, have been in my shoes, and are currently gainfully (and happily) employed with their employers’ full knowledge of their disease and recovery. Over two years ago I didn’t know whether I would live or die. I had been hospitalized five times for alcohol poisoning, been in three inpatient treatment centers, had lost my driver’s license as well as my license to practice veterinary medicine. My family had practically given up on me ever getting sober. Today I have been sober for two years, I have a job practicing veterinary medicine, and am healthy physically and psychologically. In short, I have never in my entire life been healthier or happier than I am today. Programs like Peer Assistance Services have played an integral part in my willingness and desire to stay sober and recover. – A recovering veterinarian