The Frightening Truth about Doctor & Drug Abuse

The Frightening Truth about Doctor & Drug Abuse

Doctors Love Drugs…

doctors substance abuse

It’s scary to think about, but it’s also absolutely true – doctors and nurses abuse drugs. What’s even more alarming is that, generally speaking, medical professionals abuse more potent and dangerous drugs than your “normal” addict.

Well, in 2013, a team of researchers set out to understand why doctors, nurses, and pharmacists are prone to substance abuse. The team, led by Dr. David O. Warner, conducted a landmark study titled Substance use disorder among anesthesiology residents, 1975-2009.

Their research was the first examining a specific subgroup of medical professionals, in this case anesthesiologists. It was also incredibly detailed and massive in scope. They studied the medical and professional records of over 44,000 anesthesiologists over a thirty plus year period.

What did they find? Well, their data were alarming at best and outright terrifying at worst.

Read a firsthand account of addiction & medical doctors

Statistics on Doctors & Addiction

Dr. Warner and his team came to several major conclusions. Find them detailed below:

  • 384 anesthesiologists admitted to engaging in substance abuse during their residency. While this is a small number when viewed through the whole data set (0.86%), it’s still alarming that so many medical students were abusing drugs.

  • Listed in order of abuse, the most commonly abused drugs were: IV opioids, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, anesthetics (sedatives like benzo’s), and opioid pills.

  • Of the doctors who engaged in drug or alcohol abuse, 28 died as a direct result of their abuse.

  • Between 1975 and 2009, the highest rates of abuse were between 2003 to the end of the study. It’s a safe bet that 2015 is seeing record rates of drug abuse by doctors.

  • 43% of all substance abusing doctors suffered at least one relapse during their careers.

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    Why Are So Many Doctors Abusing Drugs?

    This is the first question we have to ask ourselves. Why? Why are doctors, nurses, and medical professionals, particularly anesthesiologists, abusing drugs and alcohol so frequently?

    There are a number of factors to consider. First, being a medical professional is stressful! This likely begins in med school, where potential doctors are put through years of intense classes, training, and residencies.

    After med school, doctors and nurses live busy and demanding lives. They work long shifts, often twelve-hours at a time, and have few breaks during their shifts. There’s also the fact that medical professionals are literally making life or death decisions.

    medical professionals drug addiction

    This is true of all levels of medical professionals. From the orderlies and interns, right up to the chief surgeons, peoples’ lives are in their hands. That’s enough to make even the biggest teetotaler want a drink or a drug.

    Next, think about the student debt receiving a medical degree entails. Doctors and nurses have among the most expensive educations and also among the longest. Certainly this debt does nothing but add to their stress levels.

    Finally, and perhaps most obviously, medical professionals have access to drugs that “normal” people simply don’t have. Working in a hospital or medical office, being routinely handed pills by pharmaceutical company reps…powerful and addictive substances literally surround doctors. This is especially true of anesthesiologists.

    Thankfully, there’s hope! There are treatment centers, counselors, and other resources around the country that specialize in treating medical professionals for addiction.

    While the road to recovery isn’t always linear (remember, 43% of substance abusing doctors reported relapsing), it is possible and within everyone’s grasp. Regardless of the stress associated with being a doctor, with the large debt or the ease of access to potent chemicals, doctors and nurses can get sober. Anyone can get sober! And that’s good news.

    Pharmaceutical companies have some strange political agendas…

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