Substance abuse: Treatment

Basic, Special Problems or Issues in Anesthesiology

Substance is abuse is a growing problem in the United States and studies have suggested that 2% of physicians abuse substances. Anesthesiologists represent a higher rate of those in addiction treatment programs. It is imperative for the safety of the provider and the patient to get those addicted the appropriate treatment they need.

The process of intervening is important and something that should be done either by contacting the state medical board or administration at the hospital or head of the anesthesia group. This should be done to try and help the provider rather than punish them. 

Once treatment is ready to be undertaken, the patient should be in a safe facility with support for detoxification, which may be polysubstance and pose a risk to the patient if alcohol or benzodiazepines are involved. Inpatient vs. outpatient treatment plans are available as well as 12 step programs for sobriety. Support should be available for the patient and include, psychiatry, psychologists, experts in addiction, friends, family, clergy, etc. 

Different states and hospitals have different rules and regulations regarding impaired physicians. Often, there is a registry that must be joined and certain criteria that must be followed, often involving regulation in handling or prescribing narcotics and drug testing.


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Answered correctly


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Dan Smith, MD