How common is substance abuse among medical professionals?

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

Many healthcare professionals work long hours in demanding and traumatic environments.

The physical and emotional burnout that comes with jobs in the medical field can make these well-meaning professionals susceptible to substance abuse and addiction.

Addiction statistics

Like many people trying to make it in high-stress positions with minimal support, hospital staff members and healthcare professionals are at high risk for substance use disorders. Research suggests that one in ten medical workers will struggle with addiction:

  • Alcohol abuse: affects 4.4% of healthcare workers
  • Prescription opioid dependency: affects 10-15% of medical doctors
  • Illicit and illegal substance use: affects nearly 6% of medical professionals

Doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners and all who work in patient care have an ethical duty to protect the vulnerable. However, internal policing systems to monitor controlled substances are often lacking, and the temptation to divert drugs can be too strong to ignore for some.

Impact on patient care

Nurses and physicians take oaths to do no harm. However, under pressure to remain productive, take more shifts and maintain a work-life balance, many turn to chemical stimulants to stay awake or cope with job stress. When healthcare workers self-medicate, there is a significant risk to patients who trust doctors with their lives. A few serious examples of medical negligence include misdiagnosing illness or injury, administering incorrect dosages of medications and botching surgical procedures.

If you or a loved one has suffered medical malpractice at the hands of an impaired medical professional, you are not alone, and you have a legal right to seek recourse.


FindLaw Network