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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 142  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 344-345

Pattern & profile of substance use disorder (SUD) in physicians

1 Centre for Addiction Medicine (CAM), Bengaluru 560 029, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru 560 029, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication6-Oct-2015

Correspondence Address:
Arun Kandasamy
Centre for Addiction Medicine (CAM), Bengaluru 560 029, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-5916.166602

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How to cite this article:
Kandasamy A, Aneelraj D, Jadhav P, Sunder P, Chand PK, Murthy P, Benegal V. Pattern & profile of substance use disorder (SUD) in physicians. Indian J Med Res 2015;142:344-5

How to cite this URL:
Kandasamy A, Aneelraj D, Jadhav P, Sunder P, Chand PK, Murthy P, Benegal V. Pattern & profile of substance use disorder (SUD) in physicians. Indian J Med Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Sep 22];142:344-5. Available from:


Physicians are at a higher risk of substance use disorders (SUD) in view of the stressful nature of their job and easy access to medicines [1],[2] . The pattern, prevalence and characteristics of substance abuse in physicians are different from the general population [2] . Alcohol use among medical students and practicing physicians is a growing concern in India [3] .There is limited information available on physicians with SUD from India.

This study was conducted at the Centre for Addiction Medicine (CAM), National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, India, after approval from the Institute Ethics committee. The study was a retrospective database based analysis. The database contained information of all the in-patients' socio-demographic details, clinical history, examination findings and treatment details. These details were entered in the database after evaluation of each case independently by at least two qualified psychiatrists. We extracted the data from July 2007 to June 2012. During this period, there were 58 physicians admitted to the CAM. Descriptive statistics was used to analyse the data. The demographic and clinical details are as mentioned in the [Table 1].
Table 1. Demographic and clinical details of physicians admitted (2007-2012) (n=58)

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The sex ratio was in keeping with general trend of treatment seekers in India [4] . The physicians in our study had a later onset of initiation of substance use (26 ± 8 yr) and dependence criteria (32 ± 8 yr) than the rest of the treatment seeking population [5],[6],[7] . But this was in concordance with the other available literature of SUD in physicians [2] . Also these physicians had taken 10 years to come for treatment after the dependence pattern was established. Among these physicians about 58 per cent were using prescription drugs as one of their primary substances of abuse. All those who abused opioid, were using prescription opioids. Cannabis was used in 13 per cent as secondary substance of abuse. The profile was different from rest of the substance users' population because cannabis usage was found to be low and benzodiazepine users were more [4] . This could be explained by the fact that this study looked at the primary drugs of abuse for which these physicians got admitted to the hospital and also there was easy accessibility to benzodiazepines for physicians.

Of the 58 physicians studied, 34 (58%) had comorbid psychiatric disorders. The disorders were mood disorders in 23 (39%), anxiety disorders in seven (12%), and psychotic spectrum disorders in four (7%). Marital discord was found in 23 (40%) of them.

On the routine assessment of premorbid temperament it was found that 21 (37%) had externalising traits (ADHD, conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder related symptoms), 10 (18%) had internalising traits (depression and anxiety related symptoms) and six (11%) had both externalising and internalising traits. At the time of entry into the treatment 12 (20%) were in pre-contemplation phase, 23 (40%) in contemplation and 23 (40%) in preparatory phase of motivation. As there was no uniform treatment policy and there were lapses and relapses, follow up duration was taken as an outcome factor in the study. Nineteen (33%) of them were never followed up after discharge, 19 (33%) dropped out of treatment within one year after the admission, 20 (34%) were on follow up regular treatment even after one year. Mean duration of follow up in the later was 13 months. Although the follow up rates were relatively better than that in the general patients with SUD [8] , it was poorer when compared to the western literature [9],[10] . This can be explained by the non-availability of good documentation and reporting systems in case of treatment dropouts especially in physicians [11] .

The limitations of this study were small sample size, retrospective reviewing of the database and inclusion of only in-patients in the study. This limits the generalizability of the findings. In conclusion, physicians are in the risk group for SUD with respect to availability and accessibility to prescription medications. There is a need to study the community prevalence and treatment barriers in this group leading to delay in treatment seeking and poor follow up rate.

   References Top

Kumar P, Basu D. Substance abuse by medical students and doctors. J Indian Med Assoc 2000; 98 : 447-52.  Back to cited text no. 1
Brooke D, Edwards G, Andrews T. Doctors and substance misuse: types of doctors, types of problems. Addiction 1993; 88 : 655-63.  Back to cited text no. 2
Seshadri S. Substance abuse among medical students and doctors: a call for action. Natl Med J India 2008; 21 : 57-9.  Back to cited text no. 3
Siddiqui HY. National survey on extent, pattern and trends of drug abuse in India, Drug abuse monitoring system: a profile of treatment seekers. New Delhi: Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India and United Nations o0 ffice on d0 rugs and c0 rime, Regional o0 ffice of South Asia; 2004. p. 3-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
Kumar N, Kanchan T, Unnikrishnan B, Thapar R, Mithra P, Kulkarni V, et al. Profile of substance use among patients attending de-addiction centres in a coastal city of southern India. PLoS One 2013; 8 : e57824.   Back to cited text no. 5
Kadri AM, Bhagyalaxmi A, Kedia G. A study of socio-demographic profile of substance abusers attending a de-addiction centre in Ahmedabad city. Indian J Community Med 2003; 28 : 74-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
Rather YH, Bashir W, Sheikh AA, Amin M, Zahgeer YA. Socio-demographic and clinical profile of substance abusers attending a Regional Drug De-addiction Centre in Chronic Conflict Area: Kashmir, India. Malays J Med Sci 2013; 20 : 31-8.  Back to cited text no. 7
Chand P, Naveen CK, Murthy P, Isaac M. Addressing alcohol addiction: lessons from a hospital based audit. Indian J Med Res 2013; 137 : 394-6.  Back to cited text no. 8
Margoob AM, Majid A, Hussain A, Wani ZA, Yousd A, Malik YA, et al. Changing sociodemographic and clinical profile of substance use disorder patients in Kashmir Valley. JK Pract 2004; 11 : 14-6.  Back to cited text no. 9
Flaherty JA, Richman JA. Substance use and addiction among medical students, residents, and physicians. Psychiatr Clin North Am 1993; 16 : 189-97.  Back to cited text no. 10
Shore JH. The Oregon experience with impaired physicians on probation. An eight-year follow-up. JAMA 1987; 257 : 2931-4.  Back to cited text no. 11


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