Substance Abuse In Nursing Essay

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Substance abuse among nurses is one of the problems faced by the nursing profession today. Registered nurses abuse substances at a rate higher than the general public (Eipstein, Burns, & Conlon, 2010). While, according to the American Nurses Association (as cited in Crowley & Morgan, 2014) nurses and the general public misuse drugs and alcohol at almost the same rate. “Substance abuse among nurses threatens not only the quality of care to patients but also the professional standards of nursing” (Eipstein et al., 2010, p. 513). Substance abuse differs from one specialty to another. Areas that have high acuity patients and easy access to drugs creates an opportunity for nurses to abuse substances especially prescription medications. There are…show more content…
This stress makes nurses vulnerable to substance abuse. Abusing substances is a coping mechanism for nurses to deal with stress (Wright et al., 2012). Being overworked due to a shortage of staff, high patient acuity, rotating shifts, being assigned to different units in a shift are just some causes of stress for a nurse. Trinkoff and Storr (as cited in National Council of State Boards of Nursing, 2011, p. 17) state that “the more adverse the schedule was, the greater the likelihood there would be substance abuse.” Nursing is an occupation where emotions tend to run high and can lead to emotional fatigue. Emotional fatigue can also be due to a strained relationship between co-workers and supervisors/managers. The emotional fatigue causes stress. Dunn (as cited in Epstein et al., 2010) pointed out that emergency room and intensive care unit nurses are more stressed than other units because they have to deal with a more demanding workload, sudden change in the pace of work and often deal with death. Therefore, nurses in these areas are more at risk to abuse substances. There are more female than male nurses in the nursing profession. Women tend to cope less with stress which leads to substance
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