Alarming study: Medical students are destroying themselves with alcohol

Alarming study: Medical students are destroying themselves with alcohol

Being in med school is hard, and many students cope with huge amounts of alcohol, a study has found.

Medical students are at a much higher risk than many other groups for alcohol abuse due to burnout and school debt, a new study has found.

Researchers say it’s an indication that institutions may need to wake up and pay attention to the stress being placed on med students, according to a Mayo Clinic statement.

The study didn’t provide proof of a cause-and-effect relationship between being a med student and alcohol abuse, but the correlation was strong enough that there was cause for concern.

The findings were based on surveys of 12,500 medical students in the United States, of which a third responded, and of those 1,400 reported alcohol abuse or dependence — a tremendously high percentage. Those who aren’t in medical school tend to report alcohol abuse or dependence at a rate of about 16 percent by comparison.

That’s twice the rate of alcohol problems for surgeons, another high-stress job in the medical field.

Why is this happening to med students? It may have to do with the emotional exhaustion of working such long and hard hours, as well as the fact they tend to be a younger age, are unmarried, and have a tremendous amount of debt.

Medical school costs have been rising, jumping 200 percent since 1995, and the average debt for those with a medical degree is $180,000.

“Our findings clearly show there is reason for concern,” Liselotte Dyrbye, M.D., Mayo Clinic internist and senior author of the paper, said in the statement. “We recommend institutions pursue a multifaceted solution to address related issues with burnout, the cost of medical education and alcohol abuse.”

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