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Addiction on the rise for Ireland's doctors

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Ireland is known for its drinking.

But a recent report shows that even Irish doctors are dancing dangerously close to a cultural and hereditary problem for many people in the country--alcoholism.

About 21 of 35 doctors who were referred to a Medical Council health committee this year were battling addiction problems--three of whom were also dealing with mental disabilities.

Helping doctors cope

The committee helps to provide support to doctors, while also monitoring them if they have physical or mental conditions that may interfere with their work. Doctors can refer themselves or be referred by a third party. Last year, about half of the doctors in the group had drug problems, four had alcohol issues and eight had both alcohol and drug addiction problems.

Dr. Richard Brennan, chairman of the committee, says that doctors need more support than they're getting, especially for things like coping with patient deaths or delivering bad news to a family. The demands on them can lead to unhealthy levels of stress, which many doctors deal with by drinking or using drugs.

“We need to make sure our curriculum prepares doctors for emotionally difficult consultations," said Brennan.

And the problem is only getting worse--addictions and alcoholism are on the rise, according to Brennan. Self-medication, even just as a one-time thing, can lead to addiction.

In a survey for the Medical Council, conducted by Behaviours and Attitudes Ltd, findings showed that doctors were the "most trusted professionals in Ireland."

Source: Irish Times