Doctors and addicts - alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous inform medical students
Tomas Cronholm(1), Margita Högbom(2) and Carl Lindgren(3)
Traditionally, student life does not only mean hard studies but also leisure time, where an alcohol culture is an important part, and other drugs may also be used at student parties. Both the studies and the profession are stressful and the access to drugs and alcohol might constitute extra risk factors for abuse. In addition, alcohol and drug abuse are major causes for both psychiatric and somatic disease of the patients. For these reasons it seems important that medical students are informed on the risks of alcohol and drug abuse at an early stage.
In 1995 the Committee for Social Affairs of medical students was made aware of cases of alcohol abuse leading to discontinuance of the studies. It was decided to include information on abuse in the second semester, and in spring 1996 this was done by lectures. The student response led to a change so that half a day was used both for lectures and for meetings between members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and small groups of students. In 1997 the program was extended to include members of Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and since then comments from students and ideas from participants have led to minor changes.
The students have rated the session on a scale from 1 (uninteresting) to 9 (very interesting), and the mean values from the last 6 semesters were 6.8, 6.7, 6.1, 7.0, 6.5 and 7.0.
We believe that other education programs could benefit from a collaboration with AA and NA, and we also think that similar efforts might be tried at other universities.
Acknowledgement. The authors wish to thank the members of AA and NA for their altruistic devotion and generosity in participating in the sessions.