Dr. David Warner of Mayo Clinic's Department of Anesthesiology and the American Board of Anesthesiology board of directors said the incidence of this disorder is continuing to increase and the risk of relapse or death is high.
"Although relatively few anesthesiology residents develop substance abuse disorder, the incidence is continuing to increase," Warner said in a statement. "The problem is as serious now as it has been at any time over the period of study, and the consequences can be severe. Residents who develop substance use problems are at high risk for relapse after treatment or, in some cases, die as a result of the disorder."
Of the 44,612 residents who entered training during the study period, 0.86 percent had substance use disorder confirmed during training. During the study period, an initially high rate was followed by a period of lower rates in 1996-2002, but the highest rates occurred since 2003.
The most common substance used was intravenous opioids, followed by alcohol, marijuana or cocaine, anesthetics/hypnotics and oral opioids. Twenty-eight individuals died during the training period; all related to substance use disorder.
The researchers estimated approximately 43 percent of survivors experienced at least one relapse 30 years after the initial episode. Risk of death was also high; at least 11 percent of those with evidence of substance use disorder died of a cause directly related to the disorder.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.