Substance Use Disorders and the Impaired Physician

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Patient safety is jeopardized when healthcare services are provided by physicians who suffer from substance use disorders (SUDs). When focusing on the problem of substance abuse and dependence among physicians, certain factors inherent in the medical field, such as long hours, the high-stress nature of the work, and the ease of access to drugs, make physicians more susceptible to abusing or becoming dependent on prescription drugs and alcohol. SUDs may differ in severity. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2013) provides three severity specifiers: mild, moderate, and severe. Severe SUDs are also known as addictive disorders. To make matters worse, a culture of silence exists among colleagues, who often seek to protect the compromised physician from the legal consequences of abusing drugs. Luckily, the compromised physician can be provided with an intense and individualized treatment regime through physician health programs that aim for rehabilitation over termination of employment.

Original languageUndefined
Title of host publicationPrinciples of Medical Professionalism
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780197506226, 9780197506257
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Cite this