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MAY 6 ISSUE OF JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: UNIVERSITY OF S. FLA. RESEARCHER SURVEYS DRUG USE OF U.S. PHYSICIANS

 MAY 6 ISSUE OF JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: UNIVERSITY OF S. FLA. RESEARCHER SURVEYS DRUG USE OF U.S. PHYSICIANS
 /ADVANCE/ TAMPA, Fla., May 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Compared to the average American adult, U.S. physicians are just as likely to have tried illicit drugs in the past but are less likely to be currently using them, a University of South Florida researcher published in the May 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
 Patrick Hughes, M.D., associate professor in the USF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral medicine, surveyed 5,426 randomly selected U.S. physicians about their drug use and compared their responses to the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in 1988 and 1990.
 Physicians had higher rates of use for controlled prescription drugs than the general population. These drugs were used primarily for self treatment, whereas illicit substances and alcohol were used for recreation, Dr. Hughes said. Current daily use of illicit or controlled substances was rare, he said.
 "A unique concern for physicians is our tendency to treat ourselves," he said. "Uniform national guidelines are needed to sensitize medical students and physicians to the dangers of self treatment with controlled prescription substances."
 Dr. Hughes found through the anonymous, self-report survey that:
 -- Physicians are less likely to be current users of cigarettes
 and illicit substances, such are marijuana, cocaine and heroin,
 than their age and gender peers.
 -- Physicians are more likely to be current users of alcohol,
 though heavy use was infrequent. In their alcohol use,
 physicians had rates similar to those of other professionals
 and those of similar socioeconomic status.
 -- Unique to physicians was their higher rate of prescription
 medication use (minor opiates and benzodiazepine
 tranquilizers).
 -- Of those admitting to substance abuse or dependence in their
 lifetime (7.9 percent), the majority had either received some
 form of treatment or indicated they had successfully treated
 themselves.
 The study was conducted in cooperation with the American Medical Association, reflecting its concern for special risks faced by physicians in their daily exposure to addictive substances.
 "Organized medicine has become increasingly responsive to the issue through programs for early identification and treatment of problems," Dr. Hughes said.
 "Heavy patterns of drug use were not found for the great majority of physicians," he said. "But the public should realize that health care professionals are placed at higher risk of substance abuse by their daily exposure to these dangerous substances."
 -0- 5/6/92
 /CONTACT: Dorian Carter, 813-972-3000, ext. 2005; or Sarah Worth, 813-974-3300, both of the University of South Florida/ CO: University of South Florida ST: Florida IN: HEA SU:


JB-JJ -- FL011 -- 6714 05/05/92 15:49 EDT
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Date:May 5, 1992
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