JOURNAL ARTICLE

[Chemical and behavioural addiction of medical students. Comparative study in Lebanese students]

J Moaouad, F Kazour, R Haddad, J Rouhayem, R Chammai, S Richa
L'Encéphale 2012, 38 (6): 467-72
23200612

OBJECTIVE: Evaluate chemical and behavioural dependence of medical students, and compare it to a control group (students in non-medical faculties), in order to underline the harmful effect of university on medical students' dependence.

METHODS: A three-part questionnaire was distributed to a sample of 140 medical students at the Saint-Joseph university of Beirut (USJ), and to 140 students in many other USJ faculties, and filled in anonymously. The first part is about demographic criteria and the second and third parts are respectively about chemical and behavioural dependence, based on DSM IV criteria.

RESULTS: There is no statistically significant difference between the two studied populations concerning the dependence on alcohol, cannabis, sedatives, opiates, amphetamines, workaholism, gambling and Internet. However, the prevalence of addiction to caffeine, cocaine, nicotine; sexual addiction, and compulsive buying are significantly lower in medical students when compared to the control group. Men, compared to women, did not show significantly higher levels of dependence on chemical substances. Workaholism is not significantly more prevalent in women. Sexual addiction and compulsive buying are not significantly higher in men. However, pathological gambling and Internet addiction are significantly more prevalent in men. Finally, this study does not show a variation in dependence through the years of medical studies.

DISCUSSION: Most studies show that medical students have high levels of dependence on alcohol, opiates and sedatives. The results of our study show greater dependence on caffeine followed by nicotine, alcohol and sedatives. Medical students in our population did not reveal higher dependence rates compared to other university students. Overall, substance addiction in medical students may be related to the stress of medical studies, and easy access to drugs and prescriptions. These factors may be balanced by perfectionist traits, ethical standards and knowledge of adverse effects seen in medical students resulting in more adjusted prevalence of addiction when compared to other university students.

CONCLUSION: The prevalence of chemical and behavioural dependency of medical students is not higher than the other population.

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