In 1988, the Alabama Legislature mandated that the Board of Dental Examiners of Alabama create a Committee for the purpose of identification, intervention, rehabilitation and monitoring of dental professionals suffering with the disease of addiction. The Committee’s work largely involves intervention for addiction; however, those afflicted with physical and emotional impairments are assisted.
The Committee is known as the Alabama Dental Professionals Wellness Committee. It consists of recovering dental professionals under the leadership of Dr. Michael C. Garver. These dedicated individuals devote their time to helping their colleagues acknowledge their disease, seek treatment and return to their profession with a renewed focus on lifelong health and wellness.
There are currently over one hundred dental professionals being actively monitored by the Committee; and the Committee has interacted with hundreds more since its inception. The recovering dental professionals’ relapse rate is believe to be among the lowest of any similar program involving health care professionals in the United States.
Typically, a dental professional in need of assistance is identified and referred to Dr. Garver or the Committee by family or friends. Reports are also received through peers and other healthcare professionals such as pharmacists, physicians, and dental auxiliaries.
Once identified, the dental professional is afforded the opportunity to undergo an evaluation at an approved treatment facility. Evaluations are conducted pursuant to established and accepted protocols that include a physical examination, and an assessment of the individuals’ psychiatric, psychological and cognitive functions. Approved treatment facilities are those offering regimens specifically targeted to the needs and rehabilitation of healthcare professionals. Evaluation and treatment programs at these approved facilities are conducted in keeping with the standards set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Current approved facilities include: Bradford Heath Services in Warrior, Alabama, COPAC in Brandon, Mississippi, Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Talbott Recovery Addiction Treatment Center in Atlanta, Georgia and MARR Addiction Treatment Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Neither the Committee nor the Board is compensated or receive any benefit whatsoever from any facility for the referral or approval of any facility.
An evaluation typically takes three days, but may last a week depending on individual circumstances. The fees for the evaluation will vary. If a clinical diagnosis is rendered, then the individual will be presented with a treatment plan to address their needs in recovery. A healthcare professional diagnosed with a substance use disorder can expect to be in treatment for 12 to 26 weeks in an inpatient and/or intensive outpatient setting.
Monitoring and aftercare are essential to ensure continued sobriety and the individual’s safe return to the practice of dentistry. The specifics of an individual’s monitoring are set forth in a written agreement and may include abstinence from alcohol or drugs (unless prescribed), drug testing, meeting attendance, documentation of recovery or any other requirement recommended by the treatment facility or tailored to meet recovery goals. All subsequent required drug testing is conducted randomly through the use of a color coded system.
If the dental professional has violated the Alabama Dental Practice Act in connection with their addiction, discipline will result. Following appropriate diagnosis and treatment, if the individual is deemed safe to return to practice, they may be offered a Consent Order incorporating terms of their aftercare and monitoring requirement(s), disciplinary actions, and any other relevant conditions to be addressed.
You are encouraged to contact the Committee with any questions. You can reach the Committee Chair, Dr. Michael Garver by calling the Committee’s toll-free anonymous hotline at (800) 818-3880.
Michael C. Garver, DMD
Director, Alabama Dental Professionals Wellness Committee
Post Office Box 426
Citronelle, Alabama 36522
(251) 605-2883 Cell Phone