Substance Abuse In Nursing

Good Essays
Nurses found guilty of diversion/chemical dependency that want to go back to work
Addiction is a disease which affects many people in our society. There are many different addictions, for example, alcohol, nicotine, narcotics or gambling. Some addictions impact the lives and jobs of citizens more than others, and there are occupations where some addictions are not acceptable; nursing is one of them. Guided by the Code of Ethics, nurses are trusted to provide the best possible care. Responsibility, compassion, patience and honesty are only a few of the characteristics describing the nursing profession. Unfortunately, stress, difficulty coping and many other factors may result in an addiction. Nurses are human too and are not immune to an addiction.
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There are programs and peer support groups that help nurses with rehabilitation and returning to work. However, the stigma attached to having an addiction and distrust can make it difficult for coworkers to forgive and allow the nurse to reenter the profession, because it “threatens professional standards, conduct and morals” (Cook, 2013, p.21). In times of nursing shortages, it is imperative to allow these nurses to return to the nursing profession and earn back the trust of coworkers and society.
Literature Review
Substance abuse is a disease that affects nurses to the same extent as the general population. “Addiction is a chronic, progressive and potentially fatal disease involving the continued, often compulsive, use of mood-altering, habit-forming substances despite perceived negative consequences” (Patrick, 2010, p. 8). Patrick (2010) describes addiction as a disease. He explains the physiology of the brain, the involvement of neurotransmitters in the development of the addiction, and the changes in brain function with the use of addictive substances. Multiple factors can influence the development of an addictions, including the environment, past experiences,
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During this time when the nurse works under supervision, random drug tests are given and participation in 12 step meetings is mandatory. According to Cadiz, et al., (2012), a special program, called Fit to Perform, was developed in Oregon, which trains nurses responsible for monitoring nurses returning to work. The supervising nurse has to be able to quickly identify the signs and symptoms of relapse and address any issues related to unsafe practice. It is imperative for the supervising nurse to have a good understanding of addiction as a disease, as well as the attitudes of his or her co-workers related to substance abuse. Lack of this knowledge can “lead to prejudice and discrimination against nurses who return to work after seeking treatment for substance use disorder” (Cadiz et al. 2012, p. 136). Another goal of the program is building the supervisor’s confidence, improving their communication skills, and teaching them constructive confrontation. Constructive confrontation is imperative to appropriately address issues of unsafe or unprofessional behavior, and “may lead to increased employee acceptance of treatment and subsequent improvement in overall job performance” (Cadiz et al., 2012, p.141). Appropriate training of supervising nurses is imperative to provide patient safety as well as to build a positive team approach to coworkers recovering from
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