codependent and chemical dependent nurses

  1. I recently attended a seminar about the prevelance of drug and alcohol abuse among nurses.
    the speaker (a recovering alcholic drug abusing nurse manager, currently clean and sober psych case manager) indicated something like 35% of all nurses are chemically dependent, he believes the phenominally high rate of nurse abusers is related to the fact that everyone who chooses nursing is codependent, he went on to say something like 90+% of nurses have an immediate family member who is chemically dependent (doesnt most the population) that contributed to our codependency and our eventual chemical addiction.
    What do you think? what is your definition of codependency? what do you think about being labeled as codependent? why did you choose nursing - was it to help people and be appreciated? do you think all healthcare workers are codependent? what is your definition of an alcoholic? what is your definition of a drug abuser? how much faith do you have in his statistics on chemically dependent nurses?
    Last edit by pm-pedi-er-rn on Jul 23, '02
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  2. 24 Comments

  3. by   biscuit_007
    bull!
    most of the nurses i know are stable in all rights. I think she is making an excuse for her weeknesses.
  4. by   shannonRN
    i took a substance abuse in the workplace class for my last elective...we had to do a final presentation and my girlfriend and i chose this topic. i will have to find all my info, and will post some of the interesting facts. the state in which i reside, does not have a treatment program for doctors or nurses. i know some states do...
    i think we also need to look at the population in general. most of these statistics can be twisted to fit any profession. hopefully, i can find some of my info and post it for you...
  5. by   OBNURSEHEATHER
    Originally posted by biscuit_007
    bull!
    most of the nurses i know are stable in all rights. I think she is making an excuse for her weeknesses.
    Then I would say you know a pretty good group of nurses.

    I do believe most nurses have codependent qualities. We take care of other people for a living. Our livelyhood depends on it. I also believe for a great deal of us, our feelings of self worth and psychological well being are derived from caring for others.

    I define codependency as being psychologically influenced by and needing someone that is addicted (sick, wounded, hurt, etc.)

    As for the statistics regarding substance abusing health care professionals? Along the lines of what another poster said, I would like to see the stats for other professions before I made a comment on it. Did this speaker offer comparisons? In this time, I would argue that 90% of all people know someone that is chemically dependent, so why not 90% of nurses, electricians, firemen, and bag boys?

    Heather
  6. by   sbic56
    I have to agree with you, Heather, on the codependency piece. Codependents acheive their own self worth by making others happy/well. Nurses are by and large a psychological mess. Because of that, I think it would be a logical conclusion that the percentage of alcoholics and drug abusers in nursing would be high as well.
  7. by   pebbles
    These discussions always depress me.

    I don''t like to think that I am a nurse *because* I am a screwed up psychological mess.... I mean, I'm not perfect, but neither is anybody. Why do we have to be labelled with the term "co-dependent" which has such negative connotations in most instances....

    Many of us enjoy helping others get better etc, without getting drawn in emotionally to the codependency cycle.... Yeah, nusing might be a good career choice for people who are codependent... but not all (or even most) nurses muct be co-dependent.

    Anybody know of any actual studies that show co-dependent tendancies among nurses vs the general population....is is it all just theories in the wind? Where do these people get their numbers?

    Anyone know of any studies correlating the type of unique stressors we experience in our jobs and lives to the chemical dependency issue.... (tackling it from another perspective...) Lots of othher explanations could be applied to the situation....
  8. by   TIREDmidnightRN
    Shoot..I became a nurse because my parents wouldn't let me study law ( I was young when I went off to school the first time)....by the time I was ready to go for more school I didn't want to "start over".....so I stayed with nursing...and I believe I am very good at it.....but I would still rather be an attorney!The law fascinates me!
  9. by   slinkeecat
    I am not CO DEPENDANT....

    I am, however, the patron saint of broken wings according to my hubby, mother, etc
  10. by   nursecheryl
    I wonder if the person who made these statements also gave instruction on the meaning of codependence. It is not a word easy to define. The definition i got is 1. a co dependent person is addicted to another persons and their problems or to a relationship and its problems. 2. they let that person behavior affect him or her and is obsessed with controlling that person. 3. has a dysfunctional pattern of living and problem solving nurtured by oppressive rules within the family. 4. unhealthy dependence on person or persons so that overinvolved with the other and underinvolved with self leading to personal imbalance and loss of identitiy and blurred boundaries within the relationship.
    Sorry, but this does not describe myself or anyone I know who is a nurse.
  11. by   2MagnoliaTrees
    I bet if a study was done the percentage of "co-dependent" chemical dependant nurses would be the same % as the general population. God Bless.
  12. by   lynniepooh
    A caring heart and urge to help does not make one codepedent. Having said that, obviously we have all run into the exceptions. Frankly, I am surprised at the good mental health displayed by most nurses when you take into account what we deal with every day!
  13. by   pm-pedi-er-rn
    thanks for the great responses, i knew i could count on fellow nurses to restore my confidence!

    i think what made me the craziest was the fact this man felt like he was doing us all a favor by warning us not to touch alcohol (just because he cant handle it doesnt mean others have his same weaknesses) half of the group of 30 or so nurses seemed to be buying his crap but more than that was he is one of those AA junkies, hope i dont offend anyone - although i am sure i will! i know that aa has helped a lot of people but it seems to me that after a couple of years if you are still going to 5-14 meetings a week you are addicted to aa just like you were etoh and drugs, aa is less harmful but its still the same addiction you were trying to get away from, then they go and "preach" to others dont touch the stuff, it ruined my life and its only now that i have things under control, NO YOU DON'T,
    sorry to get on a soap box, i am tired!! just wanted to thank you all for your insightful thoughts!!
  14. by   JERRIE
    I am a recovering addict who was a Certified Emergency Room Nurse. I am the real co-dependent. I think I wanted to be Nurse so I could be somebody and maybe help someone with their pain since I couldn't seem to help myself with my own.
    I have 4 years clean now and remember the day I walked into AA. The only difference between those people and me is they were smiling. I go today so maybe I can give someone the hope I was given. The hope and love for myself I never thought possible. The Board is giving my license back. Life is different today. Today I will nurse because I care about people and have a lot to give.
    My need to abuse drugs was to medicate the discomfort I had in my own skin. No one can believe I had such a poor self image. I was a good actor. I could go on, nuff said.

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