A Personal Perspective on the Virginia Health Practitioners’ Monitoring Program.
What is “hitting rock bottom” really like? Just ask Dr. Bruce Overton. “In November 1995, my life was spiraling out of control. I was suffering from addiction to alcohol, opioids and benzodiazepines, and living in a complete state of fear and denial. But it took serious consequences—losing my license to practice dentistry and spending 10-weeks in jail—to finally bring me to the point where I was ready to admit my problems and seek help.”
“Through inpatient treatment, I made several important discoveries,” Dr. Overton said. “I wasn’t the only healthcare professional coping with addiction—I wasn’t alone. And I began to see my addiction as a disease—a medical condition that requires medical intervention—not a character flaw.”
Today, Dr. Overton has a thriving endodontic practice. He is the chairman of the Monitoring Program Committee for the Virginia Health Practitioners’ Monitoring Program (HPMP). He has served as both a peer and worksite monitor for HPMP, helping other dental professionals return to practice. The insights he gained through his personal struggles with addiction and his commitment to ongoing recovery have converted Dr. Overton into a leading advocate for HPMP.
“HPMP really offers a win-win-win,” said Dr. Overton. “First and foremost, the safety of the public is protected. Healthcare professionals are supported throughout their recovery process. And healthcare organizations are able to retain valuable, skilled employees.”
When asked what advice he would give a colleague who was coping with an addiction, Dr. Overton replied, “Reach out and get help. Then remain grounded and trust the program. If participants are willing to follow their recommended treatment plans with their providers, and comply with their contract with HPMP, they can achieve and maintain recovery, and get their lives—and their careers—back on track.”
“I never say I am cured from my addiction,” said Dr. Overton. “I just say that ‘today I am in recovery.’ And I give my time to supporting HPMP in order to help other healthcare professionals, particularly those coping with addictive disorders. But to be perfectly honest, I have a selfish reason, too. My involvement supports my own recovery each and every day.”
For more information about HPMP, visit us at www.dhp.virginia.gov/hpmp or call the HPMP Intake Coordinator at 1-866-206-4747.