It's well known that a minority of health professionals abuse drugs and alcohol. I'm happy to say that abuse of hard, medical narcotic drugs happens very rarely (as far as I know). One of the things that really surprised me when I started working in the operating theatres as an anaesthetist was the easy access to, and ready availability of narcotics to me.
In anaesthesia, we give just about all the street drugs (heroin, cocaine, barbituates, tranquilisers, ketamine) plus many others (morphine, fentanyl, midazolam etc… etc…) in their pure medical form to our patients to help them through surgery.
Strict restrictions exist over these “controlled drugs” but the restrictions only go as far as to the point when the drug leaves the drug cupboard. What happens to it after that is purely in the hands of the nurse or doctor who signed it out.
In my job, I’ve wandered round with syringes full of heroin, ketamine etc… in my hands and I’m telling you, it would be the simplest thing in the world to slip the odd syringe into my bag to “enjoy” later.
I suppose that if you are that way inclined, then you’d find a way of getting your hit, no matter what, but I think this shows the amount of trust and responsibility our employers, our patients and the public as a whole put on us health professionals to behave ourselves.
The occasional bad apple will abuse this trust but the majority of us would never dream of abusing medical substances. This is partly because it goes against everything we’re training for and also because, as doctors, we’ve seen too often where that road ends.