Abuse of the anesthesia drug propofol is growing among health care professionals with ready access to it.

A study in the April Journal of Addiction Medicine, the official journal of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, reports, "Propofol addiction is a virulent and debilitating form of substance dependence" with a "rapid downhill course." Propofol is widely used to induce anesthesia for surgery and sedation for other procedures. It is commonly used because it has a rapid onset and quick recovery time, with fewer side effects than other anesthetics.

The number of health care professionals treated for propofol abuse increased steadily during the period studied, although increased recognition by addiction center staff may have played a role.

The patients generally started using propofol to get to sleep. However, they quickly developed characteristics of addiction, with propofol becoming a preferred drug of abuse. Most patients came for addiction treatment within a few months after starting to use propofol. Five patients came to treatment after a single propofol binge.

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