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J Indian Med Assoc. 2000 Aug;98(8):447-52.

Substance abuse by medical students and doctors.

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Drug Addiction and Treatment Centre, Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh.


The doctors are vulnerable to substance abuse/addiction due to their ready accessibility to the substances of abuse. There is higher percentage use of alcohol, tranquillisers and psychedelics among medical students, and dependence rates are 5% for medical students and 3% for doctors. Majority of the substance-abusing doctors are graduates, belong to medicine speciality (21%) and majority of them prescribe drugs to themselves (37%). The consultants experience more substance related complications, despite having late age of onset of alcohol and substance dependence, less number of concomitant substance abuse and less career handicap. Stress (situational, personal and professional), medical student abuse and family history of alcoholism are the major risk factors. Despite paucity of studies in Indian population, substance use is reported between 32.5% to as high as 81.2% among medical students, intems and house physicians. In spite of the treatment dilemmas, the physicians do respond favourably to treatment. These findings have implications in planning preventive and interventional strategies for this professional group.

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