My Name is Susan - page 2

by suejgee

My name is Susan, and Iím an alcoholic. Iím also a registered nurse, hold a bachelorís degree in Human Services, and a Masters in Human Service Administration. I have diabetes, a cirrhotic liver, and havenít had a drink in... Read More


  1. 0
    Congratulations again. I know it could not be easy. I know that many days I have gone home and wished that I could do something to help my patient's addiction. It seems almost impossible to believe that we can't help them. Over time, we have seen it more and more. But it is all up to the patient to do this for themselves. And that has been hard for me. Especially when a patient comes in to get help, say like for cirrhosis and we know that drinking is making it worse. Even the patient knows. But they have somehow lost the ability to control the urge. Or smokers with COPD. It is certainly no one's fault that they have a disease. But at some point, it does become their responsibility to try to help themselves too. It has to be a team approach. It can't be onesided. We all have to do our part if our patient is to become healthy again, physically and mentally. We do treat addiction like it a choice. Because, at some point, the patient does have a choice. Do you want to live or do you want to smoke? drink? use drugs? And that is the choice you made. Some people, even given that choice have no self worth, and no way of putting themselves into the equation. I am so glad you did.
  2. 7
    Thanks for this article. It rings so true. Taking off the nurse cap for a second, I want to say that as the daughter of someone who drank again a year after his surgery for esophageal varices, somehow managed to live for 10 more years and passed away inside a CT scanner in a local ED for a head injury while I was two states away . . .

    . . .he looked like a homeless bum I'm sure, way beyond his actual age of 59 years. I just wanted to know what happened, and finally my unspoken prayer was answered. I chanced to have a nurse answer the phone who was there that night, who's voice was of concern, not the blow-off, who remembered my dad, who let me ramble and answered all the fragments of sentences and thoughts running through my scrambled mind. In 10 minutes she gave me a measure of peace that has lasted all these decades.
    AtlantaCPR, FMF Corpsman, lorirn58, and 4 others like this.
  3. 1
    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.
    lorirn58 likes this.
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    It is one thing to have those feelings as a human, and quite another to allow that to inform the treatment of patients entrusted to our care.

    Unfortunately, we are not equally skilled in that regard.
    kldepp08, Pets to People, nursel56, and 2 others like this.
  5. 1
    I always find it humorous or smirk outright when some staff makes rude comments about such patients in a "higher than thou" attitude while stuffing their face with everything in site. Also some really should accept that they made choices that led to their problems. Yes, given a different childhood, life , parents etc. things might have been different but we all have choice to an extent, as unpleasant as it is. But by the time those choices lead to medical problems, contemplating over them won't help. If someone needs and ID for shooting up heroin in their arm and getting an infection, or COPD exacerbation and still smokes.... that does not bother me at all. majority of medical problems we all see are a bit " brought upon ourselves" some people just ignore the ones that affect them. Must be some sort of coping mechanism.
    motownmama27 likes this.
  6. 2
    Some have said that everyone has an addiction. Not true at all. True addiction whether it is alcohol, drugs, sex, food, video games, etc., is life-threatening. The addict's life and often the lives of others close to them are threatened by their addiction. My brother drove drunk with his kids in the car and his BAL was close to a lethal level for his 2nd DUI. My dad wrecked into another vehicle on the road when he got his DUI.

    Addiction is soul-destroying. We use the word so flippantly- even me- but me being a "chocoholic" or even a recovering one, doesn't cause my sister to never be 100% sure that I'm not lying about everything.
    lorirn58 and SoldierNurse22 like this.
  7. 8
    Those of us that have had family members that were addicted to alcohol or drugs seem to have a harder time not being judgmental. We remember the times that our parents drove drunk with us in the car, the times we were ill yet our parents wouldn't buy medicine for us, only to buy beer or the times that they stole money from us. It would seem as though they chose the addiction over us.

    That being said, our patients are not the family members that did those things to us. Could it be that the patient needs to be treated like any other patient? Yes. We do need to take into account their addiction while being treated for an acute illness so they do not go through withdrawal in the hospital. If their illness is the result of using whatever they are addicted to, then yes, we need to make sure that we educate them about what happened, why, how it will progress if use of the substance continues and offer to get them help. Education in a non-judgmental, caring way is the key to change. It might take 10,20,30 even 100 times of them hearing about help that is out there before they really hear it. Try to be one of the people that at least makes them contemplate the possibility of an addiction-free life.

    I see addiction to be no different than the diabetic admitted for the 20+ times with a blood sugar of 900 and we watch as they go from losing toes one by one to bilateral above the knee amputations. All we can do is educate and hope that this is the time that they hear us!
    lorirn58, not.done.yet, UTVOL3, and 5 others like this.
  8. 4
    Quote from missej2002
    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.
    You can feel sorry for their loved ones on your own time, but as a nurse, your practice should be less judgemental. A little empathy goes a long way. And that is not enabling. People don't choose addiction.
    Would you feel the same if a patient has melanoma from a tanning bed, but chooses to continue to tan? Or the high blood pressure patient who blows off getting their prescription, has a stroke, and the kids now need to take responsibility? Or how about extreme sports with multiple broken bones, but a patient continues to partake in these activities?
    One is no different than another. Adreneline rush, can't stay out of the sun, and no real symptoms until it is too late blood pressure--or having drinks that turns into an addictive process--all conditions that need treatment. And that is our job. Think what you would like in your personal life, leave the judgement at the door.
    FMF Corpsman, moonmaid50, anotherone, and 1 other like this.
  9. 1
    Thank you for sharing your story. It is full of insights.
    not.done.yet likes this.
  10. 2
    Congratulations on your sobriety! You are a valuable person in the field. I too wish there were more education for nurses on addicition because many are judgemental about it. I read somewhere that 75% of nurses are the oldest child of alcoholic/drug addicted parents. I think many of them have not resolved their feelings about how addiction has affected their own lives.
    NurseKatie08 and neverbethesame like this.


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