Drug abuse by medical fraternity attributed to mental problems, finds study

Drug abuse by medical fraternity attributed to mental problems, finds study

Substance abuse can affect anyone at any point of time. In fact, an underlying mental problem can also lead to an inclination toward consuming drugs. Research indicates that health care practitioners (HCPs) like the common man, also become addicted to drugs. There may be a number of reasons for such a behavior such as high levels of stress, prolonged practice hours, and constant contact with sick patients that make the health care professionals grief-stricken.

The researchers in their study titled “Drug-caused deaths in Australian medical practitioners and health-care professionals” tried to find out the high impact of drugs on health care workers and evaluate the prevalence of deaths among Australian HCPs. The scientists also tried to ascertain the nature of association between services provided by HCPs and the kinds of drugs abused.

The study that got published online in the journal Addiction in November 2016 revealed that an increased number of nurses succumb to intentional drug overdose as compared to any other nature of HCPs. The scientists from the Department of Forensic Medicine at Monash University observed details of more than 400 drug-related deaths of Australian health-care workers from 2003 to 2013. The subjects of the study included physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, veterinary doctors and chemists, paramedics, physiotherapists and psychiatrists.

What causes doctors and nurses to abuse drugs?

The scientists observed that 62 percent of deaths among nurses were drug-related followed by 18 percent among doctors. While most of the nurses who had died were women, doctors who had succumbed to drug overdose were mostly male. The researchers noted, “Drug-caused deaths amongst health care professionals in Australia commonly involve females in their mid-40s, with a diagnosis of mental illness, personal and professional stress and the intent to self-harm.”

The scientists observed inclination for self-harm as the main reason for death. While mental illnesses were common, signs of depressive disorder were detected in almost half of those who had died. Veterinary doctors were at the highest risk of suffering from fatal consequences of drug overdose. Lead author of the study Jennifer L. Pilgrim said, “Most of these vets involved intentional self-harm where they took an overdose of barbiturates.” She also observed professional and personal stress, financial problems and relationship worries as common factors with negative consequences.

Drug prescriptions need to be closely monitored to control misuse

An examination of the source of drugs led scientists to realize that health care workers procured drugs illegally mostly from their workplace. While some were stolen, many HCPs managed to get hold of the drugs through self-prescriptions. Drug abuse by the medical fraternity is definitely a cause of concern but more alarming is the observation that most HCPs continued with their license to practice despite suffering from a depressed state of mind.

Monitoring rampant drug use among the population is not enough. It is imperative that mental health concerns of doctors and nurses are also taken into account. Factors such as constant stress, long working hours and witnessing ill health of their patients may cause HCPs to abuse drugs; other reasons like fear of backlash on sharing their mental illnesses hinder doctors from seeking the necessary medical help. Improvement of diagnostic methods and scope of drug detection in medical fraternity will go a long way in curbing drug abuse among HCPs, thus, reducing the number of drug-related deaths.

Road to recovery

Anyone in this world can get addicted to drugs in a bid to self-medicate to soothe their distressed life. A person with a drug addiction should be always assessed for an underlying mental disorder, so that the right treatment can be administered. Only a comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment can help cure a person with a co-occurring disorder. Treating the two problems simultaneously becomes necessary for long-term recovery of a person.

If you or your loved one is addicted to any kind of drugs and is suffering from an underlying mental health problem, contact the Dual Diagnosis Helpline to know more about dual diagnosis rehab centers in your vicinity. Our certified representatives available at our 24/7 helpline number 855-981-6047 can guide you to the most reliable dual diagnosis facilities. You may also chat online with our experts to seek immediate assistance.