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Nurses Struggle with High Levels of Addiction

Nursing is just one of the highly stressful jobs people have in the United States. High rates of obesity and depression already occur in people who work in the nursing field, but now we see more studies that look at yet another negative effect: addiction. The percentage of addiction among nurses in the United States is close to 20%. However, few feel they can be open about their addictions out of fear of losing their job. The biggest substance abuse problem among nurses is alcohol and opiate addiction.

The fear of being penalized or even being dismissed from their position is a very realistic problem.  A PhD from the Vanderbilt School of Nursing; Todd Monroe says that it has become difficult and unlikely that these nurses will seek help for themselves. This is not only bad for the nurses, but having a nurse with an opiate addiction (or any substance abuse problem for that matter) can be very bad for the patient. The nurse’s judgment is altered by the substance and they may not be taking proper care of their patients. They may also be withholding medication from the patients and administering it to themselves to feed their addiction. Disciplinary actions are in place for these nursing employees, but at what point does the punishment need to stop and intervention begin?

New Mexico-based rehabilitation center Vista Taos welcomes everyone with addiction to walk through their doors and learn innovative and realistic methods of battling substance abuse. Opiate addiction is dangerous to the health of the abuser, but also to the people the addict is caring for. Nurses with opiate addiction can learn to cope with the stress of their jobs by other means and Vista Taos’ counselors will work with them to develop treatment options that will fit a person’s needs. Nursing is no doubt a high-stress career, but it can be the most rewarding. If you are a nurse, or know a nurse who needs help with opiate addiction or any substance abuse issue, get them the help they need to be the best at their job; lives depend on it.

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