Chemically Dependent Nurses

  1. I'm doing a paper on this topic for my BSN. Has anyone had to deal with this? Are there any "laws" on reporting a coworker? I hear many nurses have an idea of a peer using drugs and not reporting it. Not cool if you ask me.

    Also do urine tests show all drug and alcohol use or are some not able to be detected? I couldn't believe when I was hired at my current hospital that I was never tested. Apparently they are not big believers in it.

    Anything known about this topic would be appreciated. Thanks!
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  2. 22 Comments

  3. by   southern_rn_brat
    keep coming back
  4. by   BSNtobe2009
    I'm suprised you weren't tested too.

    You can do an internet search on drugs that may not show up in a urine test, but that doesn't mean they won't show up in a hair test.

    I'm not a nurse, but even if I was, I would never put a co-worker's reputation at risk by a mere suspicion. I would have to be 190% sure they are using before I would report them.

    In the event of alcohol, I would probably go to the person directly and tell them they reek of it and see if they are smart enough to fake an illness and go home. If they did it again, I would report them...anyone can make a mistake once, but if they do it twice, it's safe so say they have a problem with not drinking before they start a shift, and they need to get help.
  5. by   Lacie
    I'll send you a pm for site for recovering nurses. There are also nurses on the site disciplined for non-impaired reasons and many for false allegations made by co-workers etc. I just posted a thread a few minutes ago regarding protection of your licensure of a ceu course online that has a great deal of wonderful information that any nurse or nurse to be should read. Anyway check your pm's Good luck on your paper also.
  6. by   vonxojn
    I worked in the ER where i had suspicions that a particular nurse was using drugs. She was finally caught one night and another nurse reported her.
    Being she was an employee of the ER for the long time, of course, no one talked about it. The last I hear, the nurse is working as a traveler now. So my question is, Y is she allowed to do this. From my understanding, everyone had an idea but they either turned their heads or just suspected it. I believe as a favor to her, the ER department decided to "let her go" instead of reporting her to the board. Good Looking Out!!!!! Now she can go to another facility and rip them off as well. U really taught her a lesson.
  7. by   jill48
    I would love to give you some information but apparently this is a subject that no one wants to talk about ; I asked some questions a couple of days ago concerning this topic and got only one reply. Anyway, check your PM because Lacie gave me that same website and it worked well. Good luck.:spin:
  8. by   Lacie
    I agree that it is a subject no one likes to discuss. I also believe although as Nurses we are encouraged to seek education and knowledge regarding addiction, domestic violence, and other allegations of misconduct or abuse we fail to take serious account of any of this happening within our own profession. When it does happen to that same co-worker next to you that you have seen daily for years, many want to turn the other way, whisper, continue in denial or go the other way to chastize/punish the nurse involved. I have seen nurses much less tolerant or understanding of other nurses in these situations then they would be of someone else not in our profession. At the same time there is so much information out there on how to deal with addicts, abusers, etc but not much when it comes to how to react when it's one of our own or what we can do to help each other through those times. Many forget that not only are we nurses we are most of all human and have the ability to make the same mistakes anyone else in the general population does. We have higher expectations of each other and when one fails to meet those expectations then we dont know what to do or how to handle it.
  9. by   puggymae
    If you work with a person who you suspect is stealing drugs and is impaired if you do not report them you are as guilty as they are. I have reported several nurses over the years to our nurse manager - everyone of those nurses failed the drug test given by the facility when the complaint was generated. (If you make that complaint to the manager then everyone working at that time is tested - including the person who makes the accusation, the manager, even students and their instructor. That way nobody knows who is being investigated.) Often other nurses test positive also. Our facility has a zero tolerance policy for this and those nurses are reported to the BON and are fired.
  10. by   grandee3
    lacee, I would also like to have the web address. At my new job, we have 4 recovering nurses. I want to understand how their program works. Thanks!
  11. by   CHPN in So Cal
    I am an RN and a recovering drug addict. My drug of choice was OxyContin and no one had any idea. Lots of people thought I was depressed, which of course I was, as I was livng a lie and hating myself for not being able to stop. I was lucky, as I went on vacation and ran out of drugs and went into withdrawl and ended up in an excellent detox run by recovering drs and nurses. They helped me learn to forgive myself and to work through the shame.
    I didn't have to go through the state sponsored drug diversion program, as I never recieved any complaints against me. But I've attended some of their meetings and I know the program is very burdemsome ie recovery meetings at least 3 x week, random drug tests which the recovering nurse pays for as well as a required on site supervisor once they approve of the nurse working again, who watches over holds on to the nure's narc keys. Overall, what I've heard from nurses who have completed the program is that it was horrible but it saved their lives. Also, any nurse who successfully completes it can have the incident expunged from their record.
    Ironically, while I was at my sickest I was awarded nurse of the year as all I did was work. Sad, to be rewarded for working like a dog and having no concept of self care. Also, when I worked in the fishing industry I was drug tested frequently but when working as a nurse I've only been tested preemployment.
    Thank God and the 12 step program, I am now clean and working in the field of nursing the I adore. As is said in the progam, if we keep using we end up in one of three places: jails, institutions or cemetaries. I'm one of the lucky ones.
  12. by   BSNtobe2009
    Quote from puggymae
    If you work with a person who you suspect is stealing drugs and is impaired if you do not report them you are as guilty as they are. I have reported several nurses over the years to our nurse manager - everyone of those nurses failed the drug test given by the facility when the complaint was generated. (If you make that complaint to the manager then everyone working at that time is tested - including the person who makes the accusation, the manager, even students and their instructor. That way nobody knows who is being investigated.) Often other nurses test positive also. Our facility has a zero tolerance policy for this and those nurses are reported to the BON and are fired.
    You know, that's not a bad policy. I have always advocated for mandatory random drug testing for any profession where people are dealing with dangerous equipment or have access to controlled substances.

    I look at it this way...if you aren't doing drugs, you have nothing to worry about.
  13. by   Lacie
    Quote from CHPN in So Cal
    I am an RN and a recovering drug addict. My drug of choice was OxyContin and no one had any idea. Lots of people thought I was depressed, which of course I was, as I was livng a lie and hating myself for not being able to stop. I was lucky, as I went on vacation and ran out of drugs and went into withdrawl and ended up in an excellent detox run by recovering drs and nurses. They helped me learn to forgive myself and to work through the shame.
    I didn't have to go through the state sponsored drug diversion program, as I never recieved any complaints against me. But I've attended some of their meetings and I know the program is very burdemsome ie recovery meetings at least 3 x week, random drug tests which the recovering nurse pays for as well as a required on site supervisor once they approve of the nurse working again, who watches over holds on to the nure's narc keys. Overall, what I've heard from nurses who have completed the program is that it was horrible but it saved their lives. Also, any nurse who successfully completes it can have the incident expunged from their record.
    Ironically, while I was at my sickest I was awarded nurse of the year as all I did was work. Sad, to be rewarded for working like a dog and having no concept of self care. Also, when I worked in the fishing industry I was drug tested frequently but when working as a nurse I've only been tested preemployment.
    Thank God and the 12 step program, I am now clean and working in the field of nursing the I adore. As is said in the progam, if we keep using we end up in one of three places: jails, institutions or cemetaries. I'm one of the lucky ones.
    Much congrats due to you!!! I'm think you know what I'm getting at then by nurses not understanding or willing to step out of that comfort zone to really educated themselves on these issues. Its easier to step aside and let the big dogs handle it. Wash our hands and be done. I'm not saying by any means not report ......only educate each other. I do think there are ways to help support and get nurses into treatment without running them bankrupt, without health insurance, or homeless down the road. We can be very judgemental of our own. This happens to many of them. And it's not just drugs or diversion. Make an error in your charting or piss off a manager or co-worker. It happens. How many are aware of the ETG testing being used and it's very faulty. Yet nurses are extended in the state programs over and over by this same faulty test. Just some things for thought.
  14. by   PANurseRN1
    Quote from jill48
    I would love to give you some information but apparently this is a subject that no one wants to talk about ; I asked some questions a couple of days ago concerning this topic and got only one reply. Anyway, check your PM because Lacie gave me that same website and it worked well. Good luck.:spin:
    It's also possible that you didn't get many responses because there are about a gajillion threads already in existence on this issue. A search of the archives will give you more than enough to go on.

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