Nurses Who Are Drug Addicts - page 2

I work with a nurse who I suspect is using drugs, and I think she is stealing them from the facility. Of those of you that have encountered this problem, what were the signs and symptoms? Thanks.... Read More

  1. by   burn out
    My heart and sympathy goes out to those nurses that have drug addictions and I praise the ones that have gotten help to get over their problem. However I believe drug addiction is very similar to alcohol addiction and it is temptation that one will always have to fight. What would be the success rate for recovering alcoholics that took up occupations as bartenders and cocktail waitresses..is the temptation too strong? Nurses with drug addictions does not just affect them, their actions affect the patient, co-workers, hospital, and physician therefore it is not "just about them". If I can not trust my co workers then I don't have a very good team to work with. It is a matter of trust, honesty, and integrity..how do you gain that back once it is lost?.
  2. by   Cattitude
    Quote from burn out
    my heart and sympathy goes out to those nurses that have drug addictions and i praise the ones that have gotten help to get over their problem. however i believe drug addiction is very similar to alcohol addiction and it is temptation that one will always have to fight. what would be the success rate for recovering alcoholics that took up occupations as bartenders and cocktail waitresses..is the temptation too strong? nurses with drug addictions does not just affect them, their actions affect the patient, co-workers, hospital, and physician therefore it is not "just about them". if i can not trust my co workers then i don't have a very good team to work with. it is a matter of trust, honesty, and integrity..how do you gain that back once it is lost?.
    you have valid concerns. i can't speak for everyone, for myself, i left hopsital nursing and went into an area where i have no access to narcotics (actually minimal if any). i have had no problems in my current position and there are literally no temptations.
    for those that do go back into the hospital area , if they are in a treatment program, they are closely monitored and usually have narcotic restrictions on their license for a specified amount of time. it's a step by step process with the nurse earning back the privelege a little at a time.

    beez
  3. by   pickledpepperRN
    I work with a womderful nurse whose first nursing job after more than a year was with us. For several months, as a condition of licensure, she was not allowed access to controlled substances. Our unit at that time still had a narcotics drawer, not a Pyxis.

    She was ans is now one of our best. Because she needed assistance from others to administer narcotics and hypnotics to her patients she consistantly volunteered to help us with lifting, answering lights, or starting an IV

    A relative who is a leader in his anonymous group tells that statistically licensed nurse, RN/LPN/LVN, have the lowest relaps rate. Much better than physicians or any other category.
  4. by   Phenomenon
    This is the hardest thing I have ever done. I am that nurse. a drug addict. I am currently on the wait list for detox to start tomorrow and rehab to follow. It is such a horrible thing. I never stole from pts, not that that makes it OK. I took large quantities of pills for a long time and was almost a relief to be caught. Like thank god, i can stop this! If you do know of or suspect a drug user at work, please understand that they are seriously crying for help, the hate themselves and what they are doing and that you would be doing the biggest favour of their lives to talk to them directly about it and/or assist in getting them help and/or going forward to the DON or management. Every day I lived with shame, guilt, and fear of being caught, ingesting approx 100-150mg oxycodone per day! All while going on with my daily life. There may be no obvious signs. As your body becomes more adjusted to the drugs, you actually NEED them to function and can function just as well as anyone else. it is if you don't have them that's the problem. i would drive, take my daughter to school, fieldtrips, work, etc. Never once did I appear intoxicated. It was pharmacy that caught on to me. My hubby didn't even know! What started as a pain problem quickly turned into lying and deceit and an addiction spun so far out of control there were days I didn't want to go on anymore and the serious self-hatred for being so weak. Whay can't I just stop!! I am starting my journey tomorrow, wish me luck. From someone who has been through it, it is a a battle like no other and I wish that other nurses would be more supportive of their peers that may have gone through the same thing. Because I am sick of living this way and I am going to work damn hard everyday to prove myself back to my family, coworkers, god, and most of all myself. Thanks for listening
  5. by   Midwest4me
    CUDOS TO YOU, Phenomenon, for getting into detox and rehab! I had a friend with a drug addiction; when she lost her nsg license, she couldn't fathom what she would do with her life, what career besides nursing she would or could ever go into. So she committed suicide. (I learned of the severe drug addiction AFTER her suicide.) I was so unbelievably shocked and saddened that she hadn't sought some kind of rehab. BEST OF LUCK TO YOU!
  6. by   Phenomenon
    I cant thank you enough for your words of support, Drifternurse. It is people like you that help the ones like us, going through difficult times, to keep in mind that there is a light at the end of tunnel. I know it will be the hardest thing to do but in the end is the best thing for my life. i know there will be some kind of nursing for me when I am done treatment, probably not in a hospital setting or anywhere with access to narcs. i would rather have it that way.

    Thanks again
  7. by   Katnip
    Phenomanon, Congratulations on taking those first steps. It's got to be very difficult to do.

    And to all of you struggling with this, I hope things get better each day for you.
  8. by   pickledpepperRN
    Phenomenon:

    You can to this!
    You made it through nursing school and passed boards. That proves you have self control

    Good luck. I hope you don't mind prayers because they are being silently said.
  9. by   Cattitude
    phenomenon:

    congrats for takiing that first step towards recovery.
    it is hard and challenging but i have been there and living prrof that it can be done. it is a day to day struggle but nothing beats staying clean. nothing!!!!
    i love the way i feel now and look forward to getting up each day. i too have chronic pain issues and using oxy only made it worse. hopefully you are getting into a good program that has experience with dealing with addicted medical professionals... good luck and feel free to contact me at any time for questions or support.:spin:

    beez, grateful fellow recovering addict
  10. by   5east
    most nurses are honest. pull her aside and tell her what you suspect in a
    generic way such as. do you think that someone's taking drugs? and just
    leave it at thAT. She will feel your suspicion and it may be enough to get
    her looking for therapy.
  11. by   nurse4theplanet
    Quote from 5east
    most nurses are honest. pull her aside and tell her what you suspect in a
    generic way such as. do you think that someone's taking drugs? and just
    leave it at thAT. She will feel your suspicion and it may be enough to get
    her looking for therapy.
    I do not agree with this advice.

    It is your professional responsibility to report an impaired nurse. Typical signs and symptoms of an impaired nurse include but are not limited to: obvious changes in mood or behavoir, pinpoint or dilated pupils and slurred speech or uncoordinated movement, excessive sluggishnish or bursts in energy, patients of said nurse who complain of pain or state that the pain med was not given to them although it was charted, narcotic counts always coming up short when said nurse is on shift, etc. Sometimes an addict can become so proficient at hiding the signs that the problem will go unnoticed for long periods of time. They may be in denial that they have a problem or may be so dependent upon their job for their supply that they accuse others. Their addiction is beyond their control and beyond hoping that a little guilt will kick in an convince them to clean up their act!

    They need an intervention. They need to be directly confronted with the problem. A good co-worker would go immediately to their supervisor and report their suspicions. State the facts. A good manager will call the co-worker in and have a very well-thought out confrontation, one that is not meant to scare the employee but confront the problem and allow them to own up to their actions. Drug testing at that moment must be mandantory if they deny the accusations. If it were me, I believe the employee deserves the chance to report themselves immediately to the BON and enter an impaired nurse program. If they refuse, then it is the manager's professional obligation to dismiss the employee immediately and report the incident to the BON.

    You can NOT make a suspicion known haphazardly in HOPES that an impaired nurse will feel guilty and clean up his/her act. If you do so, you are just as guilty as putting patients in harms way as the nurse who is practicing under the influence. Shame.
  12. by   Cattitude
    Quote from asoldierswife05
    i do not agree with this advice.

    it is your professional responsibility to report an impaired nurse. typical signs and symptoms of an impaired nurse include but are not limited to: obvious changes in mood or behavoir, pinpoint or dilated pupils and slurred speech or uncoordinated movement, excessive sluggishnish or bursts in energy, patients of said nurse who complain of pain or state that the pain med was not given to them although it was charted, narcotic counts always coming up short when said nurse is on shift, etc. sometimes an addict can become so proficient at hiding the signs that the problem will go unnoticed for long periods of time. they may be in denial that they have a problem or may be so dependent upon their job for their supply that they accuse others. their addiction is beyond their control and beyond hoping that a little guilt will kick in an convince them to clean up their act!

    they need an intervention. they need to be directly confronted with the problem. a good co-worker would go immediately to their supervisor and report their suspicions. state the facts. a good manager will call the co-worker in and have a very well-thought out confrontation, one that is not meant to scare the employee but confront the problem and allow them to own up to their actions. drug testing at that moment must be mandantory if they deny the accusations. if it were me, i believe the employee deserves the chance to report themselves immediately to the bon and enter an impaired nurse program. if they refuse, then it is the manager's professional obligation to dismiss the employee immediately and report the incident to the bon.

    you can not make a suspicion known haphazardly in hopes that an impaired nurse will feel guilty and clean up his/her act. if you do so, you are just as guilty as putting patients in harms way as the nurse who is practicing under the influence. shame.
    great advice in all aspects. i'm very curious and hope you can answer my question. i notice that you are a student or maybe just graduated so i don't believe you could have possibly yet worked with an impaired nurse. how did you come up with such accurate information? is it possible that they are actually addressing this issue in nursing school now? i would be thrilled if they are because they were not 13 years ago when i went and they should be. when i was impaired i, like many impaired rn's, thought i was the only one ever to be in this situation. information and education can help fight this horrible disease and if i can be a part in helping just one nurse not succumbing, i will... i am in recovery and will be doing my best to educate (speaking at seminars and such).
    thank you if you do answer and if its personal and you choose not to answer, i understand completely...:spin:
  13. by   nurse4theplanet
    Quote from casbeezgirlrn
    great advice in all aspects. i'm very curious and hope you can answer my question. i notice that you are a student or maybe just graduated so i don't believe you could have possibly yet worked with an impaired nurse. how did you come up with such accurate information? is it possible that they are actually addressing this issue in nursing school now? i would be thrilled if they are because they were not 13 years ago when i went and they should be. when i was impaired i, like many impaired rn's, thought i was the only one ever to be in this situation. information and education can help fight this horrible disease and if i can be a part in helping just one nurse not succumbing, i will... i am in recovery and will be doing my best to educate (speaking at seminars and such).
    thank you if you do answer and if its personal and you choose not to answer, i understand completely...:spin:
    yes, i just graduated in december and no i have not yet had personal experience with an impaired nurse.

    i was given a very good education in school about the subject. we examined nursing trends, the psychological components of addicition, why nurses are susceptable secondary to high stress and immediate availability, legal ramifications and rehab programs, signs to recognize a possibly impaired nurse, and the professional obligation to report it. it was covered in theory lecture, in psychology, and in our leadership classes.

    i am no expert but the professional obligations were made very clear to me in my education. it must be reported. there are some excellent rehab programs for nurses who suffer from addiction available today. it is not only our duty to protect our patients and help them with their disease process, but to also protect our co-workers and extend them help in such extreme circumstances. turning your head and hoping they work it out on their own only enables the addiction, put's patient's in harm's way, and does nothing to help your co-worker who is suffering from self-destructive behavoir.

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