Caring for broken nurses

  1. It happened again recently. I took care of a patient, homeless, with a substance abuse problem. She mentioned while I was starting her IV and we were conversing, that she was a nurse. That was after I asked her how her problem with pills started. She sounded legit from the terminology she used, but I checked the board of nursing sites for the two states she mentioned. It was true. She had a restricted license in the last state where she resided.

    She seemed to be a broken person with a broken life. It's especially heartbreaking when it's one of our own. I tried to give her VIP treatment and gave her a hug when she left. It felt to me as if she were a fallen soldier.
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  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   anon456
    So sad. When I was doing my psych rotation in nursing school I met one such nurse, too. She seemed really nice and I was sorry she had so many troubles to deal with. I just found out that a former co-worker-- a really nice person-- also just lost their license due to substance abuse. It is very sad.
  4. by   CantDecideUsername
    Very very sad
  5. by   Esme12
    Nurses are unceremoniously tossed aside by other nurses. Nursing does little to help the nurse in recovery. They won't hire her...she becomes desperate and jobless.

    Nurses with addictions are not the only nurses tossed by the side of the road. Disabled nurses, fat nurses, old nurses are ALL disposable.

    Sad really.

    Bless you for caring.
  6. by   verene
    It is very sad. One of my residents is a former Army medic... who through a series of very unfortunate events ended up spending part of her life living on the streets, taking drugs, and eating out of dumpsters. She's clean now, but still has a lot of physical and mental health issues which is why she lives in an ALF despite being relatively young.

    I wish we didn't treat people as disposable items. That there was a better way of rehabilitating those with mental and substance abuse issues (which all too frequently come together). I work with these people all the time and far too many of them have been abandoned by everyone - including family. It's hard for someone to get back on their feet with no support.
  7. by   Emergent
    I feel like, but for the Grace of God go I. I'm so thankful that I've been able to cling to a decent lifestyle, survive in the workplace despite my personality flaws, and never be tempted by the drugs I administer.

    It doesn't take more than the bad alignment of several factors to create a sentinel event in a person's life that sends it into a tailspin. And, like Esme says, nurses get tossed aside for a multitude of reasons.

    It would be nice to have a mutual aide society to assist nurses in need. I think our profession needs that.
  8. by   Tigerlily8
    A very touching story. Although I am not a religious person, I often say to myself " there but for the grace of God go I".
  9. by   tokmom
    Quote from Esme12
    Nurses are unceremoniously tossed aside by other nurses. Nursing does little to help the nurse in recovery. They won't hire her...she becomes desperate and jobless.

    Nurses with addictions are not the only nurses tossed by the side of the road. Disabled nurses, fat nurses, old nurses are ALL disposable.

    Sad really.

    Bless you for caring.

    I can't like this enough
  10. by   BrandonLPN
    Hopefully she's in the process of picking up the peices of her broken life. I'm sure your kindness and lack of judgement helped her in that regard, even if only a little.
  11. by   Esme12
    Quote from BrandonLPN
    Hopefully she's in the process of picking up the peices of her broken life. I'm sure your kindness and lack of judgement helped her in that regard, even if only a little.
    There the problem lies...the cycle will start all over again. She will clean herself up. She will try for jobs ...again...all they will see she relapsed "again" (insert eyeroll) That she has not had current consistent employment and has bad credit. She can't a roof over her head and certainly not clothing for an interview. Her teeth are in disrepair (yes I knew of a HR person who threw applications away because she didn't like their teeth) because she has no job or benefits....NO one wants her.

    What is the easiest thing to do? Give up. The drugs don't judge her. They don't demean her. They don't tell her she is worthless. The drugs call to her...they tell her she will feel better...and for a brief period of time...she believes them.

    Heartbreaking
  12. by   BrandonLPN
    If the people who judge her realized the role they play in the vicious cycle, I wonder if they would change their ways....
  13. by   exp626
    Addiction among nurses is a quiet epidemic. Very little attention is paid to this by nursing schools, so stigmas flourish. Our culture is to abandon addicted nurses. Not so many know about the mental health and addiction assistance programs available to nurses, so when nurses find themselves addicted they don't really know where to turn. And then there's the addiction itself, terrifying, horrible, secret, and shameful. Addiction isn't fun, it's all-consuming, and promises "I'll get this under control, next time".

    We can start changing our culture by supporting those around us. The addiction must not be tolerated, but the nurse should be given hope while recovery efforts are supported.
  14. by   Esme12
    Quote from BrandonLPN
    If the people who judge her realized the role they play in the vicious cycle, I wonder if they would change their ways....
    In my experience...no they wouldn't

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