Drug Abuse In The Nursing Profession

2596 words - 10 pages

"This is a disease that tells you that you don’t have it. It’s the only disease I know that argues with you and says, ‘Look, despite all the evidence, you don’t have a problem’" (Kunyk and Austin, 2005, p. 385). All over the world, people suffer from the addictive properties of the many varieties drugs. In the recent decade, increasing amounts of nurses have begun to see the effects of substance usage while on the job. This unpublicized problem that is sweeping nurses in America is a problem that should not be ignored as they are the frontline of healthcare.
Issue At Hand
The many responsibilities burdened on nurses have a detrimental effect on them as it leads to long, tiresome shifts. The physical and emotional exhaustion that the nurses are put through on a daily basis can be traumatizing to them. Just like veterans that experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), nurses can develop PTSD as well. In many instances, this creates an incentive for nurses to find a way to rid of memories or stresses. This is where illicit drug usage comes in to the picture. A survey done by Dunn (as cited in Talbert, 2009, p.17) showed that around 10 to 20 percent of nurses use and/or abuse drugs. That statistic is shocking considering the National Council of State Boards of Nursing discovered that "nurses generally misuse drugs and alcohol at nearly the same rate as the rest of the population" (Dabro et al., 2011, p. 2). This quiet epidemic of drug use that is sweeping the nursing workforce has had little to no publicity and is quickly becoming a bigger problem in the present times.
With drugs being more easily obtained by the general population, nurses would have no trouble at all finding their drug of choice. They even share or sell the drugs among each other! Whether its alcohol, prescription medicine, marijuana, or other illicit drugs, nurses can use them to energize, relax, or forget. The interaction between the nurses, coupled with long days in the hospital, leads to tight-knit bonds because of how much time they spend together. This bond, while healthy in some aspects, can actually be detrimental to the nurses and other hospital staff. It allows some nurses to get away with actions that would otherwise be reported to a higher authority. Nurses working under the influence will have a bit of leeway from other colleagues because of the friendships built. Even though nurses and other hospital staff members are responsible for reporting any evidence of irregular behavior or wrong doings, they fear getting bullied or other repercussions from whistle-blowing on their fellow colleagues. Studies have shown that "the odds of a nurse not reporting a coworker for suspected substance abuse while at work were 5 to 1" (Monroe et al., 2011, p. 2). This is disgraceful as nurses have the obligation of protecting their patients and colleagues.
Considering that nurses build family like relationships, they expect each other to support one another and not report...

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