Physical Therapy Board of California
Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program for Licensees
The Physical Therapy Board of California (PTBC) is one of several professional regulatory boards and bureaus that exist within the Department of Consumer Affairs. PTBC has the primary responsibility of licensing and regulating licensed physical therapists (PT) and physical therapist assistants (PTA) in California. PTBC's responsibilities come from the Physical Therapy Practice Act, which is composed of California statutes that give PTBC, among other functions, the authority to manage a Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program for PT and PTAs. The Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program must comply with the provisions in Business and Professions Code 2662-2669.
The Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program
The California Recovery Program is a confidential program that provides monitoring and rehabilitation of healthcare professionals whose ability to practice safely has been affected by the use of drugs or alcohol, and in some cases, by mental illness. The primary mission of the California Recovery Program is equal to that of the PTBC’s, which is to protect the public and return the participant to safe, professional practice.
Substance use disorder is recognized by experts as a chronic, relapsing disease. Much like cardiac disease, diabetes, or asthma, it is a permanent condition, and when treated and in remission, approximately 65 to 70% of individuals relapse. Treatment followed by supportive monitoring, such as is offered by the California Recovery Program, reduces the risk of relapse to less than 20%.
Enrollment & Participation
When a licensee enrolls, the participant is engaged in a period of assessment and early treatment. In most cases, the participant begins to recognize the issues affecting their lives and their practice. The Case Manager follows the participant into the early stages of recovery, supports them while they progress into a solid practice of recovery and emotional health, and monitors them as they return to safe, professional practice.
Participants may self-refer or may be referred by their board following a complaint. In other cases, participants agree to participate in the Recovery Program as a term of their stipulated settlement for probation.
Who is Eligible for the Program?
Any PT or PTA licensed in the state of California who may be experiencing substance/alcohol abuse or mental illness is eligible for the California Recovery Program. PTs and PTAs who are participating in another state's Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program and/or are not licensed in California are not eligible to participate in the Recovery Program. Licensees must be currently residing in California to participate in the Recovery Program.
What Service Does the Program Provide?For The Public:
- Immediate intervention to protect the public, as soon as a licensee recognizes a need to enter treatment prior to causing harm to a patient
- Confidential consultation with the concerned public, employers, co-workers, family members, friends, and consumers of physical therapy
- Assistance in preparing to talk to a PT or PTA about an apparent problem
- Consultation with employers to assure a safe and smooth transition back to providing physical therapy treatment for the PT or PTA participant
- Confidential consultation when considering entering the program
- Assessment and referral for appropriate detoxification or treatment
- Development of a rehabilitation plan for chemical dependency
- Monitoring and reassessing the PT or PTA and modifying the rehabilitation plan as necessary
- Random body fluid testing
- Referrals to local support services
- Encouragement, support, and guidance for the PT or PTA
Why is the Program Needed?
PTs and PTAs are not immune from the diseases of chemical dependency. Experts estimate that at least 10% of the general population will have a problem with alcohol or drugs at some point in their lives. Health care professionals, including PTs and PTAs, may be particularly susceptible to substance abuse problems due to the stresses of working in a health care environment and due to an increased opportunity to obtain controlled substances.
Many PTs and PTAs who experience problems with chemical dependency are able to find the help and support they need to stay clean and sober without PTBC involvement.
Unfortunately, most people suffering from chemical dependency deny the problem. Many times, they are the last to recognize and admit that they need help. If chemical dependency problems are left untreated, they may eventually jeopardize patient health and safety. They can also threaten the life of the person afflicted.
In these cases, it becomes imperative that those individuals who detect a chemical dependency health problem in a PT or PTA take action. Without intervention, diseases have predictable courses and outcomes. The California Recovery Program aims to identify symptoms, intervene, and change the outcomes.
How Does a PT or PTA Get Into the Program?
PTs or PTAs enter the Program in one of two ways:
- Self-Referral – PTs and PTAs who would like assistance may contact the Program directly.
- Board-Referral – PTs and PTAs are referred to the California Recovery Program by the PTBC as a result of a disciplinary action involving illegal and/or abuse of substances and/or alcohol.
What are the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program Requirements and Costs?
For a complete breakdown, visit Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program Requirements and Costs.
Is the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program Successful?
Yes! To complete the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program, a chemically dependent PT or PTA must demonstrate a change in lifestyle that supports continuing recovery and have a minimum of 24 consecutive months of clean random body-fluid tests.
The success of the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program is due to close monitoring of participants for an average of three years, but more importantly, it is attributable to the encouragement, support and guidance provided to PTs and PTAs by other PTs and PTAs. Substance use disorder is recognized by experts as a chronic, relapsing disease. Much like cardiac disease, diabetes or asthma, it is a permanent condition, and when treated and in remission, approximately 65 to 70% of individuals relapse. Treatment followed by supportive monitoring, such as is offered by the California Recovery Program, reduces the risk of relapse to less than 20%.
Is the Program Confidential?
California Recovery Program staff are available for confidential consultation regarding possible referral to the Program.
The confidentiality of participants is protected by law. Once a PT or PTA enters the program, the information gathered to assist in developing a rehabilitation plan, and all other information in their record, is confidential.
When a PT or PTA successfully completes the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program, the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program records are destroyed. If a PT or PTA does not successfully complete the program, the original complaint, if any, is investigated by PTBC’s Enforcement Program. (As of January 1, 2000, Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program records may be forwarded to PTBC’s Enforcement Program if a PT or PTA who is terminated from the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program presents a threat to the public or their own health and safety.
Where Can I Get Additional Information About the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program?
For general program information, to schedule intake appointments or interventions, and for questions regarding monitoring PTs and PTAs in the program, call 1-800-522-9198 or visit the California Recovery Program Website.
You can also view and download the California Recovery Program Handbook.
For questions regarding the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program or PTBC's role in protecting public safety and identifying impaired practitioners, contact us.
For answers to the frequently asked questions regarding the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program, visit https://www.californiarecoveryprogram.com/faqs.