Did Your Doctor Inhale?

Cannabis red light - adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/aforero/434623972/

A survey of medical students in Brazil found that more than 80% use alcohol, while cannabis use is limited to about one in four, a quarter use solvents and just over 25% use tobacco. In contrast, less than three quarters of female medical students use alcohol, just under 15% use tobacco, about 10 percent use solvents, and tranquillizer use accounts for 7.5%.

The survey carried out using World Health Organisation criteria questioned 456 medical students across the grades. Details will appear in the March issue of the journal Addict Behav (2008, 33(3), pp 490-495) reported by the team of Dartiu Xavier Da Silveira in the Addiction Unit at the Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Perhaps most intriguingly, the researchers found that it is usually only female medical students make the switch from illegal to legal drugs of abuse, whereas male students tend to alternate cannabis and solvents throughout college years, the researchers report.

“Interventions aiming to influence patterns of drug consumption among medical students must consider both gender differences and evolving patterns of substance use throughout a medical course,” the researchers conclude. In an earlier study (Addict Behav, 2007, 32(8), pp 1740-1744), they reported that “Living with parents or a companion appeared as a protective factor for the use of cannabis”. But, they also found that being male and taking part in sporting activities was often associated with both cannabis and solvent abuse.

In related research (Addict Behav, 2008, 33(3), pp 397-411), researchers at the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland College Park, investigated the prevalence of cannabis use disorders among more than 1200 first-year college students, aged 17 to 20. They found that a significant proportion of cannabis-using college students could be diagnosed as suffering from some kind of cannabis-related disorder. However, they add that even if there is no obvious disorder, many of the users are at serious risk of problems, including physical injuries, and commonly miss class.

In the light of such statistics, you really have to question those pleas of “I never inhaled, m’lud”, especially if it’s your doctor making them, and puts a different light on those “green” prescriptions GPs hand out advising us to live a healthier lifestyle, eat better, and get more exercise.

5 thoughts on “Did Your Doctor Inhale?”

  1. I guess you could draw parallels with politicians and GPs and their past life drug abuse. I’d be a little concerned if I learned my Doc had flunked the class concerning a particular medical condition because he/she had been stoned that day, particularly if that happened to be the problem I was at the doc’s about, in the first place. But, yes point taken. As to spot and drug abuse…? I don’t think there’s a sport yet been invented where do you don’t hear about some kind of chemical abuse, whether that’s bodybuilders on steroids, snooker players taking beta blockers to calm them, or soccer stars boozing and snorting away their earnings in dodgy nightclubs.


  2. Knowing your doctor used drugs in college is as important as Clinton doing drugs in college…Who cares? I wouldn’t care if my doctor used drugs in college as long as she/he was able to currently perform the job correctly. However, I would be concerned if needing an evasive surgery or even a checkup and my Doc. was inebriated or high on something. It would be interesting to see a connection with the medical students who did and did not use drug with the people who are in the medical field and using drugs. I think doctors with addictive personalities would and do use the drugs available to them. I think it is most interesting find was that, “they also found that being male and taking part in sporting activities was often associated with both cannabis and solvent abuse.” I always assumed sports activities to be more of a drug-free environment.

  3. @AJ It’s possible. I shall see if I can dig out a US report.

    @AJ Yes, I did try and say 25% in three different ways, the awkwardness you perceived was from my perspective a kind of linguistic joke. You might like to check out a recent post on redundancy and tautology that features similar “humour”.


  4. I’d be interested to know these stats for AMERICAN students. I bet they are.. worse. That is to say — more American students abusing substances than those who study overseas.

  5. “while cannabis use is limited to about one in four, a quarter use solvents and just over 25% use tobacco.”

    Did we just awkwardly say “25%” three different ways while trying to make them sound different? Huh.

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