Updated 04 December 2013

Less drug abuse by anaesthetic residents

American researchers say the high number of residents who study anaesthetics who had a substance abuse disorder in 1996 has decreased substantially.


Slightly less than 1% of US anaesthetic residents who began their training between 1975 and 2009 had a substance abuse disorder during their residency.

Researchers examined data gathered from nearly 45 000 anaesthetic residents during that time and found that the overall rate of substance abuse during the study period was less than 1%. High rates in the earlier years were followed by lower rates in 1996 to 2002, but the highest rates have occurred since 2003.

The most common types of substances abused by them were powerful narcotic painkillers, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and anaesthetics/hypnotics, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.


During the study period, 28 anaesthetic residents died due to substance abuse. Among others involved with substance abuse, 43% had at least one relapse over the following 30 years and 11% died due to substance use disorder.

 Rates of relapse and death did not depend on the type of substance, said the researchers.

More information

The US National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about substance abuse.

(Photo of syringe from Shutterstock)

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