Sunday, September 12, 2010


With great power comes great responsibility. Physicians are among some of the highest educated individuals and yet they are at an increased risk for drug abuse and addiction. Despite their "power", there is a responsibility to lead the way in safe practices.

Medicinal Pitfall

Employment in an environment where medicines are routinely used and available can have deleterious effects on clinicians and other health care providers. Studies have been performed to learn what fields of medicine are at greatest danger of drug abuse and the results usually show increased potential in those that distribute medications frequently. In school we are taught about the signs of addiction, where to seek help if needed, and tactics to overcome the problem. Despite this training, many physicians become addicted as a result of stubbornness, pharmacologic education, and ease of access. Check out some of these addiction facts that may shed a different light on drug abuse.

During a rotation I was surprised to work with a physician who openly discussed his past history with pain killers. He told me that the rehabilitation program he finished was one of the best things to have ever happened to him. For a long time he was in denial that there was even a problem until it interfered with his job and the patients he treated. Some addictions may seem minimal, but the psychologic drive to obtain more is very powerful. Chemical impulses can make even the most mundane stimulus phenomenal.

Addiction can happen to anybody. Fortunately, there are resources available for those who want to find freedom from chemical dependence. Whether it is a private facility, land-based hospital program or an online resource like this Vicodin rehab guide, help is available. As for physicians, most are able to keep their licenses and continue the career they have established once rehabilitation is achieved. Sadly though, it continues to be a problem. We may never know the problems others are facing, but if they come to us for help, wouldn't it be nice to have the right tools?

Question of the Week
A 35-year-old woman is found unconscious in her apartment next to an empty bottle of pills. She is brought to the Emergency Department and given flumazenil, and shortly thereafter regains consciousness. Which of the following drugs did she likely ingest?

A. Diazepam
B. Eszopiclone
C. Hydromorphone
D. Oxycodone
E. Zolpidem

Answer & Explanation


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