Med students turn to drinking to relieve stress of earning a degree.
Potential doctors are becoming dependent on alcohol to help them cope with the stress and demands of medical school and possibly, the enormous debt accrued to make it through, according to an article on usnews.com.
A new study involved inviting 12,500 medical students in the United States to participate in a survey concerning alcohol dependence or abuse. About one-third of the invitees responded to the questionnaire. The survey’s findings show that about 33 percent of the respondents reported issues with alcohol abuse, as compared to 16 percent of the general population, including surgeons and physicians.
The researchers pointed out the study only found an association with alcohol abuse and related issues, and not a cause-and-effect relationship.
The team noted a strong link to factors that would be considered as “burnout” issues and problem drinking, factors such as emotional exhaustion and large educational debt. Other contributing factors include being at a young age as compared to graduated doctors, and being unmarried, according to the study authors.
With regard to the debt issue, the average cost of attending medical school has risen more than 200 percent from the period of 1995 through 2014, leaving the average graduate saddled with debt of around $180,000 by the time they finish their education and earn their degrees.
Recommending wellness programs in the schools to help the students deal with the problems associated with alcohol abuse and dependence, Eric Jackson, first author on the study, and a student an Mayo Medical School, adds programs such as these can help identify the causes of the stress that lead to abuse. By making these acknowledgements and removing the barriers to mental health services, medical students can use support groups and therapy to assist them to cope with these factors that lead them to become dependent on alcohol.
The journal, Academic Medicine, recently published the findings from the study.