Drug addiction is a disorder that is still poorly understood within many communities. There is still stigma placed upon those that find themselves struggling to deal with issues of dependency. It applies to those struggling with spiraling issues beyond their control, even when they reach out for help.
Some look down upon addicts as people beneath them, those on lower rungs of society to pity. It will come as a shock that drug addiction is on the rise in one of our most noble professions: nursing.
There is a worrying trend of drug addiction in nurses that many people are unaware of. It is a problem hidden in the shadows by those ashamed of their actions. The American Nurses Association (ANA) states that as many as 10% of its nurses deal with drug dependency.
This is a large percentage consistent with that of the wider U.S. population. For some, alcohol is the drug of choice. Others look to amphetamines, opiates, sedatives and tranquilizers to ease their suffering. In some cases, it depends on what they can get their hands upon. With greater understanding and improved support systems, it will be possible for people to find the light at the end of the tunnel.
Why Drug Addiction Is On The Rise With Nurses?
Nurses are steadily turning to drugs as a release from their jobs. This is similar to many other workers using recreational drugs at the end of the day. The drugs take them away from reality, ease the pain and relieve stress. We have to remember just how stressful and emotional the role of a nurse can be. Therefore, it is understandable if some turn to drink or drugs to disconnect.
Some hospitals may find that the situation is worse inwards with higher demands. The worst cases tend to occur within anesthesia, critical care, oncology, and psychiatry. This is where the pressure can be most elevated. Key decisions are essential if there are complications. There is also the death rate to consider in critical care and oncology. This can be traumatic for those nurses that grow close to patients over a long time and fight to save them.
This only views a nurse on a professional level. There is also a personal life adding to the strain of their lives. This challenging work needs to put food on the table for a family, perhaps a family with illness, financial or legal issues to contend with. It can be difficult when they face overtime demands, shift changes, and emergencies. Every nurse is more than just a nurse, and some can’t cope.
The other key reason for the rise of drug addiction with nurses is the accessibility of narcotics.
It is far too easy to pick up supplies or pocket unused drugs on rounds. This availability means it is also difficult to break the habit. There are many ways nurses can access these painkillers, sedatives and other helpful drugs. The deceptive nature of some highlights the complexity and desperation of the issue.
Drugs and medication need a nurse to administer and dispose of them with care. There is nothing to stop nurses signing for drugs that aren’t required. These patients may have been recently transferred or refused treatment, yet the nurse continues as usual. Some could administer partial doses and pocket the remainder. Others steal drugs meant for disposal or take prescription scripts and forge prescriptions.
Despite all of this, it is still too easy for nurses to continue a habit unnoticed.
Nobody suspects nurses as being the subject of drug addiction. It is even true inwards if the issue has never come up before. Some wonder how these responsible, medically trained professional could do such things. Others assume that no nurse could let themselves become addicted or at risk because they know the dangers.
It means that those involved can struggle with the impact. Who do they tell and how do they come clean? Then there is the breach of ethics and the risk of dismissal. The general stigma of drug addiction is bad enough, but it is often made worse for nurses in a role of care and trust.
It is too easy for nurses to continue in silence for fear of the repercussions, but many hospitals are willing to help.
There are potential consequences to contend with when nurses come clean about drug addiction. The extent of this could depend on the additional issues related to their care. Was a patient put at risk unintentionally while nurses were under the influences? Did they knowingly deprive patients off medication to steal?
Did the impact of the addition affect performance to the point of a sick care decision or even death? A nurse may endure the temporary suspension of their license while under injury and during recovery programs.
The good news is that more and more hospitals in different states are wiser to the issue. Many now offer supervisory programs and support systems. These resources provide a helping hand for those that want to recover. This understanding stops users from hiding away assuming that nobody will understand.
Improving nurses will be under supervision while on probation, with no access to drugs. They will not be cast aside entirely. Many are happy to continue to work on a long-term program to help nurses get back on their feet. Other understands the importance of education, for both users and colleagues.
This idea of a support system and understanding is vital in dealing with drug addiction in nursing.
Understanding and support work on different levels. Nurses need to know that they can get the help they require regardless of the depth of the issue. At the same time, they need to know how to report others in trouble, so patients aren’t at risk.
If the issue is continually swept under the rug and ignored, help cannot prevail. Hospitals could go on ignoring problems and find themselves blind to issues when they could be offering help. After all, healthcare facilities are best suited to providing emotional and professional support to all that need it.