A History of Drug Addiction in Anesthesia

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Abstract

Addiction has been the dark shadow companion of anesthesia since the earliest days of the discovery of the remarkable effects of its central actions. The recognition of the dangers that anesthetic medications pose to anesthetists has slowly developed, with accelerated growth in recent years. Although anesthetists have taken many steps to identify, prevent and treat addiction among the members of the profession, the stigma attached to addiction has added to the complex challenges associated with broadening and deepening our understanding of it. The evaluation of the effectiveness of treatment and monitoring programs for addicted practitioners is limited at best and may, by nature of the problems faced, always be imperfect. The vigilance that anesthetists apply to their patient care must also include vigilance regarding the possibility of addiction among their colleagues to ensure that more anesthetists do not suffer the tragic fates of some pioneers in the profession.