Substance Abuse Resurfaces Among Anesthesiologists in Training

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , December 4, 2013

But of those who were caught and survived their residency, 43% "would eventually relapse to at least one more incident of substance abuse, which is not inconsistent with this kind of disease in the general population. "

Warner says that he worries that substance abuse is a much bigger problem than revealed in this study, because despite all sorts of mitigation programs, it persists.

"The nature of addiction is that addicts are highly motivated, and if motivated enough, can find away to beat most systems you set up. You can't believe how creative these folks can be. Your brain wants the drug, and will do whatever it takes to get the drug, and these are not stupid people."

What should hospitals and physician groups do about young doctors caught abusing drugs? That's controversial, Warner says. "Should they be treated, and if so, should they return to practice, or counseled and go into another specialty? I don't have the answers and there's a wide variety of opinions, from those who think everyone can be treated and they'll be just fine, to those who think there should be a one-strike-and-you're-out policy."

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