Prescription Opioid Abuse & Dependence Among Physicians: Hypotheses & Treatment

Mark S. Gold, MD and Lisa J. Merlo, PhD

Service Delivery, Stress, Addiction

October 2010

Drs. Lisa J. Merlo and Mark S. Gold, both from the University of Florida, examine the issue of prescription opioid abuse and dependence among physicians, exploring several hypotheses regarding etiology. Barriers to identification and treatment entry are discussed, along with methods of assessment and successful treatment in specialized impaired physician programs. Medical and psychosocial interventions, 12-step involvement, and extensive use of evaluations are highlighted. Attention is paid to typical follow-up contracting and monitoring strategies, as well as strategies for prevention. Given the extremely positive outcomes demonstrated by specialized programs for treating impaired professionals, it is recommended that their methods be disseminated and utilized in treatment centers for the general public. Corresponding presentation documents and materials coming soon.