Drug Abuse/Nurses/Kristi

  1. I tried posting a reply directly to your post, but when I typed in my ID, etc., it just flipped me back to your topic, and didn't let me post, so I started a new topic, but on the SAME topic. I can't help you as far as journal articles, but I am very interested in the topic. It seems like when we have these incidents of substance impaired nurses in our facility, they always try to keep it quiet, so we're never sure what happens to these people. Some get fired, some go to treatment and get rehired on certain conditions, some resign and show up at other facilities eventually, and some ya just don't know what happens. I personally have no tolerance for these folks. When they start talking that jive about their "recovery" and their "disease" I tune out. I feel it's a betrayal of their co-workers, their facility reputation, their family, friends, and esp themselves. I have seen so many go through treatmant after treatment, nurses included, and they just aren't motivated. I have a "loaded weapon theory" that I bet would motivate them quick! But since our society takes such a liberal approach to addicts/alcoholics, plus there's MONEY TO BE MADE since it's a DISEASE, why would they be motivated? After all, they're DISABLED, right??? OK, I've told you what I think, so go ahead everyone and lay it on me! This is just my opinion, but I would give anyone one chance to clean up their act, then it's out the door Lulu! It costs all of us, and I for one am tired of paying!
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  2. 75 Comments

  3. by   Joankim
    Originally posted by PPL:
    I tried posting a reply directly to your post, but when I typed in my ID, etc., it just flipped me back to your topic, and didn't let me post, so I started a new topic, but on the SAME topic. I can't help you as far as journal articles, but I am very interested in the topic. It seems like when we have these incidents of substance impaired nurses in our facility, they always try to keep it quiet, so we're never sure what happens to these people. Some get fired, some go to treatment and get rehired on certain conditions, some resign and show up at other facilities eventually, and some ya just don't know what happens. I personally have no tolerance for these folks. When they start talking that jive about their "recovery" and their "disease" I tune out. I feel it's a betrayal of their co-workers, their facility reputation, their family, friends, and esp themselves. I have seen so many go through treatmant after treatment, nurses included, and they just aren't motivated. I have a "loaded weapon theory" that I bet would motivate them quick! But since our society takes such a liberal approach to addicts/alcoholics, plus there's MONEY TO BE MADE since it's a DISEASE, why would they be motivated? After all, they're DISABLED, right??? OK, I've told you what I think, so go ahead everyone and lay it on me! This is just my opinion, but I would give anyone one chance to clean up their act, then it's out the door Lulu! It costs all of us, and I for one am tired of paying!
    I cannot help but respond to your post. I am one of those recovering nurses and take offense at some of your ignorant comments.

    Yes, it is a disease, one I would rather not have!! I fail to see where "betrayal" plays any part in this dieases, or maybe I am just ignorant. Did I betray my former employer? My coworkers? Yes I used in the job, but I do not think I bertayed them. I misrepresented myself and lied about my using initially. I was hesitant to admit I had a problem, because of people with attitudes similar to yours! There are so many people who lack knowledge regarding addiction. I am in recovery, I do not spout recovery talk to anyone I work with, and am grateful that I have been given a new chance in life! My liscence is on probation, has been for the past 34 months and I choose , today to not work around narcotics. Instead I work in an office setting with insurance.

    I really take umbrage with your comments about the "loaded weapon".
    Where is there money to be made, and by whom? Yes it is a disease, but at least in my state, it is NOT a disability. I did not collect 1 dime of money from any one when I was in treatment and out of work for over 4 months. Maynr there are people out there like that , but the majority of people who do such things are not addicts!!

    I suggest you become a little more open minded and get off whatever throne you think you are sitting on. I would not like you to care for any of my family or friends with the attitude you display.If your attitude is loke this , how are you with patients eho are alcoholics, or addicts? What about HIV patients? You must live in an awfully enclosed world!! Unfortunately, you are not alone in your thinking. There are many others in the medical field who are just as opinionated and unknowledgable as you!!
  4. by   madonna
    In response to the nurse with no tolerance for impaired nurses, I once had a similar opinion. I was above drug abuse and much too righteous to become addicted. I took my job responsibilities very seriously. My dedication to the job landed me a top nursing position. The neglect I witnessed tore me apart. When I wasn't at work, I worried about the quality of care that patients were receiving. I fired employee after employee for infractions of care issues, in hopes of replacing them with people who'd possess genuine love & concern for the people in our care. This wasn't as easy as I assumed it'd be. When staff called out or just didn't show up for work, I went in for them. I was sure I could change the healthcare industry. The other RNs were dedicated to the facility, but they were able to leave work and focus on their families. I, on the other hand, didn't possess the ability to separate my career and my personal life. Upper management praised my efforts and with each "pat on the back", I became more determined in my quest for perfection. I became obsessed with ensuring the highest level of care for the patients. My marriage failed, I gave up custody of my children, how could I possibly care for them when I had 125 patients, their family members, and over 100 employees to focus on? I literally lived at the facility. I managed to "handle" this for 2 1/2 yrs, then I snapped. Feelings of guilt overwhelmed me as my children grew more distant. The more depressed I became the harder I worked. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat. I had lost everyone and everything, my job was my life. As hard as I tried, patients were still neglected, family members were still dissatisfied, physicians were still impossible to deal with at times, and upper management continued to demand more. This does not justify substance abuse. I let my patients and their families down, I let my coworkers down, I let myself down. My addiction couldn't do anymore damage to my family, I'd destroyed their lives long before I began using chemicals. Please try to remember that nurses are human like the patients we care for, we are no better.
  5. by   PPL
    OK, I'm listening, and furthermore, I expected this. Keep the comments/opinions coming. Thanks and welcome to all posters re this topic. I have more to say, if you want to hear it.
  6. by   DC
    I am the nurse who first threw out this discussion a few days ago and hadnot got back to this till now. When I first read Kristi's reply, I got mad, then I just sat quietly and reflected about this common opinion and howgreatly it has devestated by life and career!When I used and diverted drugs for a 5 week period back in 1998, I had 20 years of experience (very successfull I might add), and was very physically ill. I needed to have surgery and kept putting it off because of no staff, inexperienced staff, etc, etc. I had used up my sick time avoiding surgery. I would have no means of income whlie out, you can't get unemployment if you're not physically able to work, and you can't get welfare or foodstamps till 6-8 wks of absolutely no income!!I stole the drugs on 5 occasions, I didnot do them at work, but did do them when I got home. My physical pain was gone for a short time and it felt good. Of course I was caught, fired and referred to the state nrsg board. It has taken 24 mos for my case to be heard. In these 2 yrs, it is a matter of public knowledge about the investigation on my license! I must have applied to about 1000 places for a job, once they found out I was being investigated, they wanted no part of me. A few people told me to call back when this was resolved. I finally was placed on probation for 4 years(in addition to the 2 i'd been waiting). Meanwhile I have been in graduate school to finish my MSN, i AM DUE TO FINISH IN 12/00 AND WILL be an ANP. But I still can't get a job anywhere. The minute people hear about my past they are like jeckyl and hyde. The way people look at you, their tone of voice, everything changes. It doesn't matter about 20 years of hardwork and committment to this unforgiving profession. I am bitter and feel I will never have another chance. I have lost everything, emotionally and financially. My family has suffered because of my mistake. I have often said that nurses eat their own, and it's very true!!!Nurses are supposed to be so caring and compassionate, but what about to their own???I am personally sick of apologizing for my drug problem, I am sick of rejection after rejection and I am sick of the archaic way state boards handle this ever growing issue. I am 42, I don't know how to do anything else, all I have ever done is be a nurse. What now??? As for Kristi, I hope nothing bad ever happens to you or god forbid you ever make a big mistake in your personal or professional life, but, your own attitude may be just what you get in return!!!!

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  7. by   bunky
    This is a question here as I am trying to really understand this. Would those of you who did abuse say that drugs were more of a coping mechanism for a mental illness? I mean logically now you can say that the hospital would not have fallen down if you hadn't been there to work. So you took drugs at that time because you had the idea that you HAD to be there and the only way you could go on was to take drugs to keep going? And I have to say that you guys are opening my eyes a lot here. Would any of you agree that we as nurses get programmed for this idea that everyone is depending on YOU and YOU alone and that only YOU can see that everything is done right? When I look at that underlying attitude which we hear all the time, "Come to work, we really need you", and "You can't call in sick, I have no one else to work" I can see why you felt that drugs were a means to go on.

    And Madonna, the people you fired? Do you think now that maybe what you saw in them as lack of caring may have been more a normal balance between work and home than you were able to display?
  8. by   Joankim
    I cannot say that I uses because I thought I needed to in order to work. I started using long before I became a nurse, drinking heavily in HS and nursing school, using marijauana and amphetamines in HS and nursing scholl and cocaine in the last year of nursing school. I used thruogh out my career, have been a nurse for 21 years and recovering for 3 1/2 yrs. I used to make me feel OK, to numb my feelings to escape from life as I perceived it.
    It is calssified as a disease because it is very difficult to stop using, addicts react differently to drugs; for instance I was injecting between 300 to 400 mg of Demerol IV at the end of my using, I would use 50 to 100 in 1 injection. I became more energized when I used, and I was using at work, before , during and after, and NOONE suspected me. This is what I mean by reacting differently . I used 20 mg of MSO4 to help me clean my house. I reacted oin an abnormal way. My brain and body chemistry react differently to these drugs. I have a chemical imbalance. I do not feel I use this as an excuse, as was implied earlier. I will state again, I often wish I was not an addict. I will however treat my disease with meetings and abstinance and the 12 steps. I still am not sure about the term betrayal. Does a coworker betray you when they have a heart attack, or get cancer? That is how I view my disease, and the AMA back it up as a disease. I think the original poster is looking to bait people, unfortunately I also think she is not very knowlegable or willing to be educated regarding this. So be it, I cannot change it....
  9. by   bunky
    But whatever your reason for using, you knew when you took the demerol that it was against all the rules of nursing. Do you think that a prexisting mental illness caused you to do it? A lot of people toked up in highschool, but it doesn't mean that they went on to cocaine. This is the part I am trying to understand. Was there a prexisting condition in you that caused you to escalate your useage? In time it takes more and more to catch a buzz, and I understand that, but the escalation from pot to coke, to demerol and morphine seems to suggest more a psych issue.
  10. by   Joankim
    I guess I am not understanding your question regarding a psychiatric link. What type of psych diagnosis are you thinking about? I have since worked in psych for 1 year, and do not have a psychiatric diagnosis. Could you elaborate please.
  11. by   madonna
    I fired staff for different reasons, excessive call ins, insubordination, etc., but what I was referring to was the incidents in which patient care was poor. My RN staff was wonderful and they were great examples of the healthy balance that I lacked.
    Originally posted by bunky:
    This is a question here as I am trying to really understand this. Would those of you who did abuse say that drugs were more of a coping mechanism for a mental illness? I mean logically now you can say that the hospital would not have fallen down if you hadn't been there to work. So you took drugs at that time because you had the idea that you HAD to be there and the only way you could go on was to take drugs to keep going? And I have to say that you guys are opening my eyes a lot here. Would any of you agree that we as nurses get programmed for this idea that everyone is depending on YOU and YOU alone and that only YOU can see that everything is done right? When I look at that underlying attitude which we hear all the time, "Come to work, we really need you", and "You can't call in sick, I have no one else to work" I can see why you felt that drugs were a means to go on.

    And Madonna, the people you fired? Do you think now that maybe what you saw in them as lack of caring may have been more a normal balance between work and home than you were able to display?
  12. by   DC
    Psych related???Interesting, I think many many nurses become interested in a helping profession because they were from some type dysfunctional family/home situation or for whatever reasons, they felt the need to fix/help others with their problems. Many nurses neglect themselves and place everyone elses needs ahead of their own. They have trouble saying no and feel like they can handle a multitude of things before realizing they are overtaxed, not coping well or causing problems for themselves. Nurses tend to be perfectionists and often feel like they have failed if they can't handle these crazy demands or if everyone around them isn't doing well. What is the issue is why certain nurses become addicts and others don't. Perhaps it's coping mechanisms at a given time. Maybe it's a predisposition to addiction much like alcoholism or depression. Maybe it's lack of support systems for themselves. Maybe it's their inability to ask for help. I think this is one of the reasons other react so badly to a nurse's addiction, somehow we should be above this, too strong to succumb , almost beyond being a real human being, vulnerable just like everyone else??So, yes ther'e psych related issues, but they are as different as the nurses who end up abusing drugs. For whatever the reasons, I think the issue is how to help these folks, how to save their careers and how to decrease the horrible, ignorant stigma that follows them for the rest of their lives. Any ideas?

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  13. by   PPL
    Man, I'm reading all this, and it sounds like some of you would like to tar and feather me, for what you believe to be my narrow-mindedness. I read your many different possibilities as to how/why you became an addict, but I see NOTHING to indicate choice as one possibility. This makes me a little suspicious, because you can't argue about the compassion and understanding that nurses are supposed to possess, without also speaking about the ethics, choices and responsibility that goes with our training. So, you think I should choose to be MORE compassionate and understanding toward your "disease" but let YOU totally off the hook re any ethics, choice and/or responsibility re your usage? Maybe, but I think not. As far as my Loaded Gun Theory, I'm not suggesting that we blow any addicts out of the water. What I AM trying to suggest, is that theoretically, if a loaded gun were held to the head of an addict, "disease" or not, then we would REALLY begin to see who is motivated by what, and just how much choice is involved in taking that next drink and/or using that next drug, dig? As for those of you who suggest that I'm ignorant and unknowledgeable re the true nature of addiction; so say you. I won't try to change your mind, as your plate is already too full. I will however, attempt to suggest to you, that you reach into your deepest selves, and try to tap into what I believe exists in each and every one of you; the ability to be honest, the ability to know right from wrong; and the ability to CHOOSE the right thing. Thanks to all.
  14. by   DC
    To PPL, wow! I have just read another one of your letters and again your arrogance floors me! It sounds as if you may have had some lst hand experience with addiction to be so cynical and sarcastic.Maybe someone in your family or a close co-worker that tried to burn you to protect themselves? I may be wrong, but your strong opinion came from somewhere. As much as I don't like your attitude, some of it is correct. Yes, all of us did have a choice, and I think we all knew right from wrong. You may think my ethics were in the toilet, but believe me, i'm far from off the hook!!!!!I am being punished in the worse way, my career is destroyed. What I loved most in my life, no longer accepts me. I have been outcast, thrown away by people like you that thinks my total selfworth is contingent to one huge dumbass attack in a 20 year career.I can't fathom that in your career, you have never made a mistake, poor judgement, or wrestled with your own conscious in a care issueregarding eithics, morals, etc. If you say you have not, then I don't see how you could be a nurse. I'm sure you think you have it all figured out, but read what these other folks are replying to you. Are they all wrong and you're so brilliant that you're the only one that understands this? The statement you made about my plate being too full was beyond cruel, and, I am saddened that a person could be so cold, calculating and still be involved in healthcare. You are a scary person with some issues of your own. Atleast I am addressing my issues and trying to do something about them. I hope something or someone is able to help you understand your shortcomings before they backfire and cause you some serious problems.I am angry at myself for allowing someone like you to upset me. You do have the right to your own opinion whether I like it or not.Look in the mirror, I think your halo is slipping. Goodluck, i's pretty sure your coworkers are weary of your self-rightengous????

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