Medical students with financial obligations likely to abuse alcohol: Study

Stress plays an important role in pushing people towards alcohol addiction. As per medical practitioners, stress can contribute to initiation and continuity of alcohol use, apart from tendencies to relapse. The relationship between alcohol and stress is a subject of interest for clinicians and researchers worldwide. The behavioral reactions of medical students to incessant pressure and their tendency to abuse addictive substances is also a matter of concern for psychologists.

Researchers from the Mayo Medical School and the American Medical Association carried out a study to understand how physical fatigue and emotional exhaustion among medical students result in dependence on alcohol and its consequent abuse. The study, titled “Burnout and Alcohol Abuse/Dependence Among U.S. Medical Students,” sampled 4,402 medical students to investigate the level of alcohol addiction, potential of exhibiting depressive behavior and suicidal tendencies associated with high levels of weariness they suffer from.

Medical study costs may lead to psychological disorders

The study, published online in the journal Academic Medicine in March 2016, found that nearly one-third of the medical students under observation were aggrieved of chronic addiction to alcohol. An estimated 80 percent students were completely fatigued, dependent on alcohol and manifesting signs of depression during the survey.

The authors of the study wrote, “In comparison, only 15.6 percent of a sample of U.S. college-educated 22- to 34-year-olds met similar criteria. Furthermore, the rate observed in our sample was almost twice what was previously reported among participating surgeons, a national sample of U.S. physicians, and that found in U.S. adult population.”

Detailed analysis revealed that young and single students burdened under a huge educational debt were more likely to abuse alcohol. Thus, the rising costs of medical studies and increased debt can be potential reasons for alcohol abuse. It was observed that instances of alcohol abuse were more common during the first two years of medical studies.

“The escalating cost of medical school needs to be more effectively addressed, especially if health care reform and reimbursement changes lead to reduced earning potential in some specialty areas,” said the authors. They also emphasized on the need to control costs related to education as findings indicated that escalation in educational debt causes students to suffer from serious psychological disorders.

Colleges need to focus on students’ psychological aspect

The findings of the research need to be taken into consideration as there was an accretion in medical costs by 209 percent during 1995-2014. The study also found that newly graduated doctors carried an average of $180,000 burden on their heads. While rising education costs take a toll on the minds of graduating doctors, it is imperative for medical schools and institutions to develop an advanced curriculum keeping in mind the mental health of the students.

Also, the medical students need to be educated about the pervasiveness of various mental disorders and their consequences among physicians at the time of training and practice. Looking at the scenario, it becomes important for the institutions to help students evaluate the their psychological state, design programs to activate their flexibility, manage the burden of piling debt and ask for professional help when needed.

Road to recovery

Nearly 3.3 million people die each year due to alcohol-related disorders, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Excessive intake of alcohol is responsible for more than 200 disorders, both physical and psychological.

If a loved one has become an alcoholic, you can contact the Florida Alcohol Addiction Helpline for immediate assistance and information on alcohol treatment in Florida. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-220-5381 to find one of the best alcohol rehabs in Florida.