Despite the knowledge and understanding of the dangers of drug use, a new study shows that many medical students are experimenting with, and misusing drugs. Marijuana, alcohol and prescription drug use seem to be the most prevalent among medical students, although other illicit drugs are also used on campuses throughout the country.
The study includes information gathered from nine medical schools within the state of Florida and provides a comprehensive snapshot at what types of drugs are being abused by future doctors. According to the data collected, nearly 50% of medical students have used marijuana in their lives. Almost 25% of students used marijuana during medical school. 46.9% of medical students surveyed stated that their prescription drug use got worse in medical school, and most of these students admitted that these prescriptions were not their own. Of those that drink alcohol, 6.7% feel that they have a drinking problem.
Additional probing into the drug problem among medical students revealed the reasons behind the misuse. For instance, 16% of the future doctors that are abusing painkillers do so because it helps to relieve stress associated with medical school and work. For those doctors that are abusing ADHD medication, like Adderall, their primary reason (90%) was to help study, the same motivator for many college students throughout the country.
Perhaps what is most alarming about these figures is that these are the professionals that many families hope will prevent, stop, or intervene on their loved one’s drug use may be struggling with the same issue.
It is clear that medical schools need to step in and adjust the academic and social culture of their institutions. And for their part, schools are trying to help their students. Many school have implemented different early screening techniques to catch potential drug problems before they spiral out of control. Some colleges are implementing different relaxation techniques like yoga, wellness days and other personal services.
“I think the take away for medical schools is you have an opportunity and an obligation to help students develop into the healthiest physicians they can be. It’s much easier treating addiction problems or psychiatric issues early as opposed to waiting until they become more severe,” said Dr. Lisa Merlo, a clinical psychologist at the University of Florida and Director of Research for the Professionals Resource Network.