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Mayo has theories on why med students are twice as likely to abuse alcohol

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A Mayo Clinic study finds young people in medical school are twice as likely to abuse alcohol as their peers studying other subjects.

In announcing its findings, Mayo said the research shows 30 percent of medical students report alcohol abuse or dependency. Problem drinking is especially common among students who are younger, single, and carrying heavy debt loads, the study says.

The report "Burnout and Alcohol Abuse/Dependence Among U.S. Medical Students" was published in the journal Academic Medicine.

The lead author, Dr. Liselotte Dyrbye, says the research suggests that the high cost of a medical education, student burnout, and alcohol abuse are intertwined and the recommendation is that institutions approach the issues together.

Dyrbye spoke about the findings with ABC 6 News Monday.

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Dyrbye tells the station the average cost of a medical school education soared by more than 200 percent in 20 years at both public and private schools and the average debt of med school graduates is now $180,000.

Mayo says the med students' rate of abuse and dependency just about doubles the 16 percent found among students in the same age group who are not studying medicine. It also doubles the rate of doctors, surgeons, and the general public.

Feelings of burnout were associated with alcohol abuse among medical students. The research found no statistical difference between men and women nor between the different years of medical school.

A student at Mayo Medical School, who was part of the research team, says it's recommended that med schools identify factors contributing to stress and remove barriers to mental health services.

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