Drug And Alcohol Abuse A Major Problem For Medical Students, Study Finds

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Drug And Alcohol Abuse A Major Problem For Medical Students, Study Finds

A new study from researchers at the University of Florida found that drug and alcohol abuse is a significant problem for medical school students. Dr. Lisa Merlo, a clinical psychologist at the University of Florida, spent the last few years studying drug and alcohol use in nine Florida medical schools.

Students were surveyed, and researchers discovered the following about drug and alcohol abuse:


  • Nearly half (46.8%) of students in medical school reported using marijuana at some time in the lives.
  • More than one in five (22.7%) medical students reported engaging in marijuana use while in medical school.
  • Twelve percent said marijuana use had increased since beginning medical school.
  • Eighteen percent said they used marijuana on a weekly basis.


  • Nearly half of students (46.9%) reported that prescription drug use increased while in medical school.
  • Almost two-thirds (64.3%) said that they didn’t have a prescription for those drugs themselves.
  • Nearly 1 in 10 (9%) said they had used opioids since beginning medical school. However, more than one-third (34%) reported lifetime use of opioids, most (79%) stating they were used to relieve pain.


  • Almost all students (96%) reported drinking alcohol, and nearly 7% said they might have a drinking problem.
  • Thirty-one percents said they drank more alcohol since beginning medical school.
  • Seventy percent said that they engaging in binge drinking after exams.


  • Only 6% said they smoked cigarettes in the last six months.
  • Twenty-eight percent said they had used stimulants in medical school. Of those, nearly two-thirds (64.3%) said they were not prescribed to them


“I think the take away for medical schools is you have an opportunity and an obligation to help students develop into the healthiest physicians they can be. It’s much easier treating addiction problems or psychiatric issues early as opposed to waiting until they become more severe.”

The study has not yet been published, but you can read more about it here.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology


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