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Psychiatr Clin North Am. 1993 Mar;16(1):189-97.

Substance use and addiction among medical students, residents, and physicians.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois, College of Medicine, Chicago.


When turning to our original questions, we offer the following tentative conclusions: 1. Although medical students as a group have a slightly higher percentage of use of alcohol, the pattern and prevalence of alcohol dependence is very consistent with their age mates in the general population. 2. There appears to be a pattern of increased alcohol problems with age among physicians and attorneys, as opposed to the general US population, which shows a diminution of alcohol-related problems over time. 3. There is no evidence for a marked increase in drug addiction and use of other prescription drugs among physicians. In fact, with the exception of tranquilizers and alcohol and psychedelics, which were used equally by physicians, medical students, residents, and their age mates, most other drug usage was slightly more prevalent in the general population than among students and residents. 4. Of particular concern is the finding of a lack of gender differences in problematic drinking with the pattern of female drinking rates for women approximating that of men by the end of medical school. 5. The most consistent predictive factor in alcoholism among physicians is the same as that in the general population: a family history of alcoholism. 6. Additional predictive factors of physician alcohol-related problems include a narcissistic type personality style that endorses the exploitation of others, a perception of low parental warmth in childhood, and particular stressors in the working or student environment such as being abused by others. Further predictive factors related to occupational stress await the results of ongoing perspective studies. 7. Physicians as a group probably respond more favorably to alcohol and drug addiction programs than do members of the general population. To a great extent, this is directly or indirectly due to the dire consequences of continued use, which include loss of hospital privileges and state licensure. It also would appear that required treatment and monitoring for alcohol and substance abuse has a positive effect on abstinence rates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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