My Name is Susan - page 4
My name is Susan, and I'm an alcoholic. I'm also a registered nurse, hold a bachelor's degree in Human Services, and a Masters in Human Service Administration. I have diabetes, a cirrhotic liver, and... Read More
Apr 10, '13Quote from missej2002You clearly have never struggled with an addiction, or loved someone dear who has.Love the article, but I have encountered numerous addicts. I do not feel sorry for them, and at times I do judge them, the addicts that won't buy their seizure medication, or Tylenol for their child's fever because they can't afford it, but they smoke two packs of cigarette a day, just bought junk food from the vending machine, brought their pain medication, or they drink daily. They are on dialysis, have DM, do not control their glucose still smoking and does not know why their wound will not heal or why they are losing another toe. I am not sorry for feeling this way, we can not enable addicts, I am not here to baby them, addicts need to stop feeling sorry for themselves, attempt to get help, and stop blaming others. We all have choices, that we make, we are not perfect, but when we make the worry choices, we have to face it, fix it and move on. I have many addicts in my family, drunks, smokes, drugs, comfort eaters, etc. The ones I feel sorry for is their family-their parents their children the spouse, and etc.
Were that we mere mortals were as upright, clean, and pure as you......congratulations.
Apr 10, '13The article was very good. I am very empathic to the plights of the addicted and treat ALL of my patients the same regardless of my feelings about how they are doing damage to their gift of life. I get to know them as human beings and after knowing that I have a connection/rapport with them, I even talk to them about their "wake up call" and get their plan about getting better so as to avoid getting such conditions (again) like necrotizing fasciitis, etc.
Some things to remember: ANYONE can get addicted to ADDICTIVE substances. That is why they are called that.
"Spreading unhappiness, etc" is not an addiction; it is a poor character trait.
We nurses are indeed making judgment calls. If not, why do we teach self-care and wellness? Is that not
imposing the values of society (best practices, research findings) at large upon someone?
Use of absolute words are judgmental: everyone, all, always, never, etc.
There is very good help out there for the taking as evidenced by the OP's story...people CAN and DO beat
addictions. It is a choice.
Apr 10, '13Hi Susan ! Loved your history and how distructive the Nursing support team leaves US all. I worked 34 years in Hospital setting Functioning VERY high daily but was controled by this distructive process of Alcohol Addiction! I also worked in an Alcohol treatment center with harsh judgement on chemical dependance issues. I had to stop going against my will to support this judgemental hospital! I now am retired from this harsh enviroment , but it hasn't changed my hope that GOD can restore us all to clear thinking and LOVE for GOD's People..
Apr 10, '13I was married to an alcoholic for 22 years. Destroyed our family while I tried to work with, and survive with the amazing functionality of this man. He was a better worker drunk than sober.
My children still to this day have issues from the situation even though they are grown. To compare the devastating effects with alcohol with other things such as cigarettes is a little off putting. Everyone knows the effects of tobacco, but I can't remember a time that a cigarette caused the death of someone in an automobile accident, unless they dropped the cig in their lap. I can't remember cigarettes bankrupting a bank account. I also can't remember cigarettes causing loss of memory for days, or causing black outs. Mind altering substances are very serious and cause loss of life.
It's human nature to judge people-we all do it, even addicts judge others-in fact very harshly, narcissistically and at times violently.
I'm very impressed with your accomplishments and I'm also glad that you had the unfortunate blessing of esophageal varices which stopped you in your tracks. If you had not had that near deadly wake-up call in your life, would you have continued on with your drinking? Many don't, many won't. So I personally and emphatically applaud you for moving on with your life and I am sure it is very hard to deal with the aftermath of your addiction, but taking on changing the world's attitudes is just like AA, one day at a time, one person at a time, and all you can do is plant the seed, and hope people are a little more understanding.
Apr 10, '13Until addiction is taught as the disease it is there will be nurses who misunderstand and continue to think a moral character defect is the reason for Substance Use Disorder (SUD). The misconceptions, bias attitudes and out right hatefulness to people suffering from SUD is very disheartening. We as nurses are better than that. We are taught to provide comfort and a healing attitude for people who are most in need of that care. If it is a bum from under a bridge going into DT's or a bank president who is dope sick, it still the same. These people need a caring nurse not a moral lecture. I have found that some of the very nurses who cast the loudest complaints do so out of ignorance or fear. SUD lowers inhibitions, places it's victims in precarious situations and makes getting the substance the body craves the most important driving force for that person. The sickness encompasses physical, mental and spiritual pain. Until that pain is dealt with the urge to use is still there. A kind word or action from a caring nurse can go a long way to easing a small part of that pain. Don't sell your patients short while looking down your nose at them, be the nurse you are suppose to be and give comfort, If you can stand to be around those suffering from SUD then don't. Find another place where you won't have contact with them. They suffer enough with out nurses heaping ridicule & scorn on them.
Apr 10, '13Well written. You make a lot of good points.
Without going into details, we're encountering a lot of patients with drug addiction and complications in clinicals. The Professors in my program have been very alert to what you are describing, and have gone out of their way to make sure we understand addiction better, and especially that we behave in a non-judgemental and caring manner with these patients. This is more difficult - but even more important - when the patient is actually drug seeking, or repeatedly engaging in self destructive behavior.
But you alluded to something that is really very important. You never know just what it is that will get through the fog to someone - like that doctor did with you.
It's a matter of timing, skill, compassion - grace and good fortune as much as anything else. So you're caring for a patient who's engaged in really self-destructive behavior: Maybe the few moments of listening or caring, or the chance comment, or the way you didn't flinch when you uncovered the dressing... you just don't know what it is that may (or may not) wake someone up and begin to take control of their lives, to make different choices. It's rarely the lecture, it's more often about 'presence' and really 'seeing' someone. You can't 'be' with someone when you're judging them.
Apr 10, '13Most addictions come out of daily frustrations.Why would anyone punish thenselves with self destructivce behavior unless they were stressed to begin with.
Apr 10, '13Great to hear your story. I also am a recovering alcoholic. AA worked for me and I am very active in the program. Once I worked the steps and had a spiritual awakening, I wanted to do something with my life that would help others. I went back to school at the age of 47, received my ADN, and I am now a RN for hospice/palliative unit at the VA. There is no shortage of vets dying from alcohol, drug addiction, and smoking. I am so grateful to be able to help them.
There also is no shortage of self righteous helthcare providors that seem to be disgusted by alcoholics and addicts. We are here to provide unjudgemental care, no one has the right to judge others.
Apr 10, '13I've been in healthcare for almost 40 years and when I first started as a Nursing Assistant, I was surprised at how judgmental the nurses could be. It's unfortunate that such cultures have been allowed to flourish. While I think it's improved through the years, it still exists. I worked with a nurse once that worked to change that culture. What we can do is refuse to "cooperate" with such behavior, and exhibit the opposite behavior and be an example to the "newcomers" to the profession. I don't have the answers for dealing with colleagues like that, I have found they can get defensive when trying to discuss it with them.
Apr 10, '13I forgot to mention I went into recovery in 1990. It was the best thing I ever did and my bosses were very supportive of me. While I'm not sure I'd recommend going through treatment at the hospital where you work (we had an Addiction Recovery Unit on the 5th floor, I worked in ICU on the 4th floor), I survived it all. While it is a confidential program, my co-workers found out where I was. I don't think the ARU staff said anything. The Urology Unit shared the 5th floor and I'd already worked at the hospital for several years. Probably someone saw me on the unit and said something to other people. It doesn't matter how they found out and I was upset for awhile, but I came to realize that if nobody had found out, I would have had to answer questions about where I was while I was absent from work. For the most part, my co-workers were supportive. While a few derogatory comments got back to me, no one said anything like that to my face. There were a few "nosy" questions asked, but that was okay.
I've heard some nurses say that addiction isn't a disease "because they have a choice". The Big Book of AA states, "..an alcoholic has lost all power of choice..." when it comes to drinking. Many people don't understand that.
Apr 10, '13Congratulations & thanks for sharing. I am an RN whose family of origin is totally formed of addicts (like so many caregivers). Both of my parents & all siblings are alcoholics. In addition, my brothers grappled w/drug addictions @ one time. I am addicted to food & it is just as severe. I am morbidly obese, diabetic, have hypertension & carotid stenosis. I've never been successful @ my many tries toward recovery. Two of my children are overeaters & one is an alcoholic. My ex (their father) is a gambler. Both of my grandfathers were alcoholics. So, I truly believe that there is a gene for addiction & we pass it on. It is obvious & still the health professions view addicts as weaklings w/no self control. You are very courageous. Keep it up & don't lose your compassion for your addicted patients. You may be the only one who understands them during their hospital stay.