Unfortunately, nobody is immune to drug addiction. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what ethnicity you’re from. Economic circumstances and occupation don’t even matter. In fact, substance abuse among nurses is a real problem today. It has far-reaching negative effects on the nurses involved. This is also true for the patients who depend on them for safe, competent care.
Facts About Substance Abuse Among Nurses
Substance abuse among nurses ranges from misusing prescription drugs to addiction to illicit drugs. Alcoholism also occurs. Regardless of the substance, this is a complex disease. It has serious physical, emotional, financial and legal consequences. The consequences are progressive and dire. Fortunately, successful treatment is available.
Illicit drugs result in long-lasting mind-altering changes to your brain. This is why addiction is a chronic disease. It’s also why early treatment is so important. Not only will this help the nurse get well but it also helps their patients. They need protected from the nurse’s addiction while under her care.
Behavioral changes typically occur, including:
Changes in job performance
Frequent trips to the bathroom
Arriving at work late or leaving work early
Making too many mistakes with medications
Physical Changes Can Also Take Place
Some of these changes are subtle, while others are easier to see. They include:
Subtle changes in appearance that become much more noticeable over time
Growing increasingly more isolated from colleagues
Inappropriate verbal or emotional responses
Becoming less alert or more confused
When a nurse is addicted to prescription medications they may try to get them from their job. This is especially true if a doctor refuses to write them a prescription. Of course, this causes even bigger issues, especially for the employer.
These companies suffer from:
Incorrect narcotic counts
Large amounts of narcotics wasted
Discrepancies in medical records
Altered prescription orders
Patients may also complain saying they’re not getting good pain relief. This can vary depending on the day of the week and who’s working.
Treating Substance Abuse Among Nurses
Before the 1989 substance abuse among nurses typically got them fired. At the very least, the board of nursing (BON) would discipline them harshly. Today this has changed. Non-disciplinary programs are much more common. They offer an alternative to traditional discipline. Instead, they offer a combination of rehab and treatment. During this time nurses can’t care for patients. In fact, they don’t return to their job until they prove they can do so safely.
By Stephanie|Drug Addiction
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