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Drug Abuse among Doctors

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Drug abuse among medical professionalsDrug abuse in the workplace can be a big concern in any occupation, but what about when the addict is a doctor, or more specifically, an anesthesiologist? Some may think that this group of employees should understand the risks and dangers of controlled substances better than anybody. After all, they deal with these drugs everyday and have studied them in depth.

This may be the exact reason some doctors are able to successfully support a drug habit without getting caught. They have easy access to the drugs, being around the drugs every day may lead to cravings for the drug, they see the positive results patients experience with the drugs, and they know the symptoms of drug abuse and how to hide them without getting caught.

Anesthesiologists and drug abuse

A recent study examined the risk of anesthesiologists being exposed to low levels of drugs through patients exhaling them or through the skin. While more studies are being done on this subject, it could be said that just the constant presence of the substances near a person could easily drive them to try it. Many anesthesiologists who are addicts started using drugs when they were under the stress of their residency training period and were not experienced enough with their profession to say “no” to the temptation to try a drug. It’s easy to become addicted to such powerful drugs, and it often doesn’t work to “just try it once”.

Even though the statistics are low- as few as 2% of anesthesiologist residents abuse substances- the drugs that they do use are usually some of the most powerful intravenous drugs around. This often leads to death because of the strong substances and addictive nature of them. A few additional problems result from anesthesiologists using drugs: being so educated about controlled substances, anesthesiologists may be more able to cheat on drug tests to keep from getting caught. The chances of an anesthesiologist making it through treatment and going back to their work are not very good; 1 out of 9 will end up dying from relapse and subsequent addiction. And the public safety issue is very concerning – how do we ensure that those responsible for our lives are sober when treating us?

Solutions for hospitals

Some hospitals have measures in place to catch drug abuse among staff, including urine drug tests and strict monitoring of controlled substances being taken out of stock. While these may be useful tools to help keep people honest, some would argue that the thing hospitals need to focus on is prevention of the problem. Education and training should include drug addiction awareness, and stress reduction practices should be taught. Perhaps if we focus on the well-being of individuals before they feel the need to turn to substances we can prevent the abuse in the first place.

Cox, Lauren Urine Drug Tests for Doctors? Nov. 12, 2008

O’Brien, Keith Something, anything to stop the pain 11/9/08

Vogler, Mark Former Lawrence General Hospital nurse gets 41 years in federal prison Nov. 20, 2008

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This article was written by Jared More

As the Director of Interactive Marketing for American Addiction Centers I am a forward thinking and big picture focused Online Marketing Specialist. Online marketing must be an organizational objective and cannot be compartmentalized into a specific field of pursuit. My objective is to build integrated teams of advertising, technical and marketing professionals that can inspire and influence entire organizations. Successful online marketing requires a group of talented professionals that truly enjoy and are very good at what they do, working together toward common goals. Often companies have disconnected teams of paid advertisers, technical folks, content development and organic marketers. A team that works together on paid, organic, social and traditional channels that also has the technical ability to make changes on the fly is a team that will quickly generate more exposure and revenue for their company. This cohesive approach allows for exponential growth in the rapidly changing digital space. I currently have the pleasure of working exclusively for American Addiction Centers, a rapidly growing leader in the addiction treatment space. American Addiction Centers has a fast paced, challenging and innovative marketing team that is an exciting place to be a part of.


AniruddhaMarch 14, 2009 at 4:20 amReply

Most of the time think that anesthesiologists are not drug addict but this article shows that any one can get addicted by drug even though they know the side effects of drug.
This article also gives difference between anesthesiologists and drug abuse.

joanne tuckerJune 4, 2011 at 3:41 amReply

I live in a small country town and working at the hospital is a anesthesiolgist whos got.
a. drug habit. apparently it known but nothing can be done until. dare l say it, he kills someone and gets striked off the AMA .drug addiction is class less. many doctors are on methadone ,but then are unable to write S8 meds.its hits all walks of life.No one is above it.