The prevalence of alcohol, cigarette and illicit drug use and problems among dentists
BACKGROUND: Primarily on the basis of qualitative data, use of alcohol and illicit drugs has been speculated to be higher among dentists.
The authors conducted a study to assess self-reported substance use by dentists and compare these data with those regarding physicians and the general population (GP).
METHODS: A total of 113 dentists (65.3 percent) and 104 physicians (63.4 percent) from a northeastern state responded to a seven-page self-report survey during the summer of 2002.
The survey assessed health care professionals’ alcohol, cigarette and drug use; consequences of use; disciplinary occurrences and treatment; and professional and social influences.
- Although about twice as many physicians as dentists reported heavy alcohol use, a greater number of dentists reported heavy episodic alcohol use over the past year and past month, as well as having more alcohol-use problems than physicians.
- Roughly twice as many physicians and three times the GP reported using anxiolytics than did dentists.
- More dentists than physicians reported past-year, but not past-month, minor opiate use.
- While more dentists reported being in social situations in which they were offered alcohol, more physicians reported being offered alcohol by pharmaceutical companies at various functions.
CONCLUSIONS: Contrary to previous speculation, there is little evidence from the prevalence data the authors analyzed for this report to suggest that dentists are at a greater risk of developing alcohol- or other drug-use problems than is the GP.
Research; J Am Dent Assoc. 2005 Jul;136(7):1023-32. The prevalence of alcohol, cigarette and illicit drug use and problems among dentists. Kenna GA, Wood MD.
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