Substance Abuse and Addiction among Registered Nurses

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Substance Abuse and Addiction among RNs

Substance abuse and addiction among registered nurses is a quiet growing issue in the health care industry. Sadly, nurses are not the only profession that falls guilty to this issue. This is also a big issue among physicians as well. “Addiction among nurses has been recognized by professionals in the field for over a hundred years” (Heise 2003). According to Science Daily, “As many as 10-20% of nurses and nursing students may have substance abuse and addiction problems” (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011). This is roughly about 250,000 nurses and students, which is only 10%. “While the risk of addiction is not limited to any one specialty, the specialties with the highest prevalence of substance abuse uses are ICU, ER, OR, and anesthesia” (Heacock, 2013). “The most frequently abused substance is alcohol, followed by amphetamines, opiates (such as fentanyl), sedatives, tranquillizers, and inhalants, according to the ANA” (Copp, 2009). This growing epidemic needs to stop for a number of reasons. The first priority is the safety of the patients. The other reasons would be the safety of the nurse, the costs that tie into this, and the wasted time trying to figure out what is not accounted for.

There are numerous reasons as to why nurses fall victim to substance abuse and addiction. Some of the main reasons are the following: job stress, easy access to medications, and being workaholic. The reason why one may believe job stress can cause a nurse to use substances is because of the long shifts and possibly the environment in which one may work. Also nurses have to meet certain physical and emotional needs for their patients. They have to make life or death choices in the matter of seconds. That alone can ...

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Heacock, S. (2013, January 6). Nurses and Substance Abuse. Retrieved from NurseTogether:

Monroe, T., & Kenaga, H. (2011). Don't ask don't tell: substance abuse and addiction among nurses. Journal Of Clinical Nursing, 20(3/4), 504-509. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2010.03518.x

Wiley-Blackwell. (2011, January 26). Support not punishment is the key to tackling substance abuse and addiction among nurses. Retrieved from Science Daily:
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