Differences In Prevalence By Specialty

The choice of a particular drug and route of administration is influenced by accessibility and familiarity. Among anesthesiologists, for example, injectable fentanyl and its analogs are the most frequently abused opioids (see Table 1).

Although opioid addiction—and addiction treatment—among anesthesiologists has received frequent notice, the addiction rate among anesthesiologists may not be higher than among other physicians. Opiate abuse among anesthesiologists may be discovered more frequently because of the hospital environment in which they must practice. Interpersonal stress and the isolation of an office practice are believed to make psychiatrists particularly vulnerable to alcohol and drug abuse. The privacy of a solo office practice also makes detection difficult.

TABLE 1

Drugs of Abuse by Anesthesiologists

California Diversion

Resident

Program

Anesthesiologists

n = 42

n = 132

Drug of Abuse

(percent)

(percent)

fentanyl/sufentanyl

40

80

meperidine (Demerol)

29

17

and other opiates

alcohol

17

11

cocaine

10

3

diazepam (Valium)

2

12

inhalation anesthetics

0

8

(e.g., nitrous oxide)

ketamine

0

6

other

2

6

Data from the Diversion Program of the Medical Board of California shows the primary drug of abuse of anesthesiologists who were participating in the program during 1989 (Ikeda & Pelton, 1990). The data on resident anesthesiologists show their drug or drugs of abuse (Menk et al., 1990). Some residents abused more than one drug.

Data from the Diversion Program of the Medical Board of California shows the primary drug of abuse of anesthesiologists who were participating in the program during 1989 (Ikeda & Pelton, 1990). The data on resident anesthesiologists show their drug or drugs of abuse (Menk et al., 1990). Some residents abused more than one drug.

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