BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Physicians has a slightly higher rate of psychoactive substance use when compared to the population in general. Anesthesiology is one of the most affected medicine specialties, especially due to overwork and easier access to drugs. This paper aims to carry out a literature review on the topic. Therefore, research was conducted by searching topic-related keywords on papers from the last 30 years available on MEDLINE. CONTENT: Despite the fact that alcohol abuse is the most common among anesthesiologists, the abuse of anesthetic agents causes more concern, due to its high dependence potential and consequences, which are often fatal. The most widely used drugs are opioids (fentanyl and sufentanil), propofol and inhalational anesthetics. Young professionals are the most affected. Among the consequences of drug abuse are workplace absence and even death. The return to operating rooms seems to increase the risk of relapse. In Europe and in the USA there are specialized treatment programs for the middle class, as well as preventive measures, such as strict control of drugs and identification of professionals at high risk of abuse. In Brazil, Anesthesiology is the second medicine specialty with most drug addicts, but the topic has not been much studied and there are few specialized programs in the field. CONCLUSIONS: Substance abuse by anesthesiologists is an issue that needs to be discussed further, especially due to the possibility of severe consequences for professionals and patients.
absenteeism; anesthesiology; mortality; occupational diseases; opioid related disorders; physicians