Abuse of propofol, the potent sedative suspected in Michael Jackson's death, isn’t common among the general public, but it’s a growing problem amongst doctors and nurses, the Wall Street Journal reports. Addicts refer to the habit of injecting propofol, which doesn't show up in standard drug tests, as “pronapping”—using it to induce brief rests between shifts and enjoying the brief high they experience on waking.
Three days before Jackson’s death, an group of nurse anesthetists warned hospitals that they should restrict access to propofol, which is often stocked, unmonitored, in supply rooms alongside Band-Aids. “I was injecting it 50 times a day when I was in my worst period,” recalls one anesthesiologist who recently went into rehab. One 2007 study found 25 cases of abuse over the past decade, including seven deaths, but the study’s author thinks the actual numbers are much higher, with several dozen deaths in recent years.