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Why anesthesiologists get hooked on drugs

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GAINESVILLE, Fla., Oct 25, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A Florida researcher says exposure to low doses of strong painkillers in the operating room may contribute to anesthesiologists abusing drugs.

Mark Gold of the University of Florida told the yearly meeting of Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego last week that anesthesiologists who sit near a patient's head during surgery are exposed secondhand to anesthetic drugs as they are exhaled by the patient.

Blood sampling and further studies are necessary to determine if anesthesiologists truly suffer ill effects from inhaling trace amounts of the drugs just as non-smokers are adversely affected by secondhand smoke, Gold said.

"Most people thought that in the evolution of anesthetic practice from inhaled gases -- nitrous oxide and ether, and so forth -- to drugs that are administered intravenously, there wouldn't be secondhand exposure," Gold said.

"(Now we see) that those narcotics, which may be 1,000 times more potent than heroin, get into the air, may reach their brain, may change their brain and make it more likely that they'll crave and want drugs, (become) depressed, and (it) may be more likely that they'll have a host of behavioral problems."

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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