Chemical dependency in nursing

  1. When I was in nursing school there wasn't any education what so ever about the high percentages of chemical dependency in nursing. After working as an RN for over 5 years, I only recently even knew that each state has a nurses assistance program for nurses struggling with addiction. There's just no education at all going on here. Hospitals would rather pretend it doesn't exist than educate their staff about drug diversion and what nurses can do if they need help. I had no
    idea how to get help until after I was confronted about diverting, forcing me into self reporting or else face harsher consequences. It's not right. Why is there no education about this when 1 out of ten nurses is said to be struggling with addiction?
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   Rose_Queen
    Actually, the estimated substance abuse rate in nursing is about the same as in the general population.
    The American Nurses Association (ANA) estimates that six to eight percent of nursesuse alcohol or drugs to an extent that is sufficient to impair professional performance.



    Others estimate that nurses generally misuse drugs and alcohol at nearly the same rate (10to 15 percent) as the rest of the population.
    https://www.ncsbn.org/SUDN_11.pdf

    It was very briefly mentioned in my nursing program, but not in depth. However, it is impossible to educate about everything in nursing school; as nursing programs are meant to prepare students for patient care, I can certainly understand why programs choose to focus on that and leave out things such as addiction or dealing with the BON since those are typically going to be things that affect only a small percentage of students.
  4. by   elkpark
    Go figure. My hospital-based diploma program 30+ years ago talked about it quite a bit, throughout the program. They had an agent from the SBI come talk to us about drug diversion in healthcare settings, and they bused us to the state capital to attend a BON meeting, inc. sitting through the disciplinary hearings scheduled that day (that was quite an eye-opening experience for all us students). The longer I've been in nursing, the more impressed I've been with what an excellent, thorough education in nursing I got in my original diploma program.
  5. by   aflahe00
    Wish I had the same education you received. Anything at all would have been something at least. If new hires were educated about how this less than appreciated form of drug diversion is also associated with adverse consequences, every effort should be made to discourage diversion from the start. Before it happens. Especially in a hospital setting which provides ample opportunities to divert. Everyone in this setting should be aware.
  6. by   Silverdragon102
    Moved to the Nurses and Recovery forum
  7. by   SororAKS
    Quote from elkpark
    Go figure. My hospital-based diploma program 30+ years ago talked about it quite a bit, throughout the program. They had an agent from the SBI come talk to us about drug diversion in healthcare settings, and they bused us to the state capital to attend a BON meeting, inc. sitting through the disciplinary hearings scheduled that day (that was quite an eye-opening experience for all us students). The longer I've been in nursing, the more impressed I've been with what an excellent, thorough education in nursing I got in my original diploma program.
    My mother went through a diploma program, and I know some diploma grads. From what I have seen, the programs do an excellent job.

    I like the preparation they gave you. My program did not do that. I think it would be useful to add this to the curriculum. Thank you for sharing.
  8. by   Buyer beware
    OP:
    I don't remember it being called "drug diversion" back then. I just remember it just being called "stealing drugs."
    In the days before pyxis you could measure the algorithmic progression and the severity of someone's addiction by count inconsistencies that were at first off by a few doses and then in a out of control devil-may-care sort of way off by industrial strength amounts.
    But I do think the "drug diversion" moniker was just something an administrator made up so he could look important, people would think he was smart, and he was worth his over inflated paycheck.
  9. by   dtanna
    You say that hospitals don't tell you what you can do if you need help because you are diverting... yet you could have asked for help at any time but got caught before you could. Every hospital I have ever worked in has some form of Employee Assistance Program and you could have talked to them before you got caught and the result would have been the same. You would have had to self report to your State's recovery program anyhow and you would be in the same predicament you are now. I was in a group full of recovering heath care professionals and someone them DID try and get help for their addictions and wound up sitting right next to my anyhow... Forced into some sort of contract with the State so the outcome really wouldn't be any different. Good luck in your journey of recovery.
  10. by   aflahe00
    Your right but how is one to proceed when the only help you can get is to google because there isn't a how to guide for this kind of thing. Addiction is a problem in healthcare that some think it best to avoid. Many nurses struggling in addiction want help but don't know how to go about it. They fear for there career as they should. They are afraid because well they should be afraid-their livelihood is at risk. Their reputation is at risk.
  11. by   Tnccriley
    That is fantastic to hear! The whole point of these programs is to stop a problem BEFORE anyone gets injured. I mean, in any other setting, you come to work impaired you lose your job. You make a mistake...you lose your job or face some sort of discipline. In the healthcare setting though, there is no room for an error that could prove to be fatal. So, along those lines of thinking the idea is to address a problem BEFORE a mistake is made. Would it not follow then, that employees (nurses) need to be aware that help is available to begin with? I too was not aware of the program until being mandated to comply with it. 4 years of nursing school, and 5 years of practice and not so much as a whisper.
  12. by   Tnccriley
    I disagree. Knowing exactly where to turn for help specifically gives one the potential to seek help BEFORE ever placing a single patient at risk.
  13. by   Penelope_Pitstop
    I don't recall any mention of this during nursing school (graduated in 2006) or hospital orientation, but that doesn't mean it wasn't mentioned. (My ADD renders anything learned in a classroom-based orientation very hit or miss in terms of retention).

    My state requires at least a set amount of CEUs for renewal to be concerning drug use...that's the education we are "given."
  14. by   elkpark
    Quote from Tnccriley
    That is fantastic to hear! The whole point of these programs is to stop a problem BEFORE anyone gets injured. I mean, in any other setting, you come to work impaired you lose your job. You make a mistake...you lose your job or face some sort of discipline. In the healthcare setting though, there is no room for an error that could prove to be fatal. So, along those lines of thinking the idea is to address a problem BEFORE a mistake is made. Would it not follow then, that employees (nurses) need to be aware that help is available to begin with? I too was not aware of the program until being mandated to comply with it. 4 years of nursing school, and 5 years of practice and not so much as a whisper.
    Every employer I've worked for over the last few decades has included in the initial employee orientation a review of the EAP (Employee Assistance Program) and the services it offered, including assistance with mental health or substance abuse problems. I find it a little disingenuous to suggest that any licensed nurse sincerely doesn't know where to start in looking for assistance. I can understand being unwilling to use the employer-provided assistance -- but that's different from not knowing where you might be able to get help.

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