Allegations that Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito used methamphetamine and ecstasy while he was dean of USC’s medical school have opened a window into the pervasiveness of drug use and addiction among physicians and the challenges they face when confronting it.
Experts say physicians become substance abusers at about the same rate as the general population. But they are often reluctant to seek treatment out of fear of losing their medical licenses and livelihoods.
They also know the signs of drug use — and how to hide them — better than others, allowing them to evade notice and their addiction to escalate, experts say.
“There’s an invulnerability: ‘Well, I’ll just do this the...