Nurses Who Are Drug Addicts - page 20

by jill48 46,651 Views | 215 Comments

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. 0
    Hi Sara -

    Congratulations on your recovery! There are quite a few of us, with various lengths of sobriety, on this forum............and each one is passionate about being a nurse in recovery. Kudos and hugs to you for having the courage to do the right thing, even when the going gets tough.

    I didn't see anything in your post about blaming your problems on your co-workers. What I got from your post, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that you're experiencing abusive behavior from your co-workers r/t the fact that you are a nurse in recovery. They may justifiably have trust issues, but that doesn't give any of them the right to behave in a manner that is anything less than professional towards you. That being said, a bit of that behavior is to be expected and the reasons for it are as numerous as there are personal experiences. Some folks just want to be the perpetual martyr, others like to play the victim, etc......even tho they were never personally involved in a situation with your drug addiction. Some folks like making others feel less than.......makes them feel better about themselves if they are "one up". Truth is..... you can't change them, you can only change yourself. However, you did not get sober to be the target of someone's misguided, maladaptive, misplaced anger. Some of this may blow over in time (it often does), and sometimes we need to find another area to work in. Talking it over with your nurse manager may help to open up some other options.

    Hopefully, some of the others will be along to share their experience with you soon. In the meantime, hang in there! It DOES get better.
    You're welcome to PM me anytime.

    Debbie
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    I worked with several nurses that had addiction problems and the unfortunate thing is that the facility gave them an out to let them go and guess what?,,,,they showed up at another facility to another job and repeated the behaviors. I am not against trying to get the nurses help but how can you hold them accountable if they do not do that?? One eventually almost KILLED a patient and lost her license and another showed up at my hospital working for an agency wanting to work in the unit I was charge at. He ended up floating to another area but I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive since I was the one who reported him (along with others) for literally have the meds in his pockets. He glared at me that day as he gathered his stuff to head home. I don't know if he ever got treatment or not....That is what scares me....
  3. 3
    Quote from sara62
    Why can't our fellow colleagues offer support and encouragement and show respect for the nurse who is working their butt off to rebuild their life?
    Hi Sara,
    I too am a nurse in recovery. It's been a long road and I've had to go through a lot of emotions and learning to get to where I am today. Sometimes, other nurses can't offer support because they are human. Not everyone believes that 1. addiction is a disease,
    2. addicts want to get well.

    Sometimes they also have personal issues which affect their feelings about those in recovery. I used to get upset when people wouldn't give me support. Now I don't, I will not give anyone one bit of my energy. I respect other people's opinion even if I don't agree with them. No one is perfect and everybody has done wrong in their life. Our wrongs are plainly out in the open and up for all to judge.

    I think, if you follow your heart and a great recovery plan, then everything you need will follow. You don't need ALL their support. But there will be one or two that will give it and that is enough. And we are always here too.

    Quote from zoo4uRN
    Some folks just want to be the perpetual martyr, others like to play the victim, etc......even tho they were never personally involved in a situation with your drug addiction. Some folks like making others feel less than.......makes them feel better about themselves if they are "one up".

    Oh you said it! I am so tired of people like the above, the whiners/victims. The high and mighty. To heck with all of them!
    I live my life the way I feel is good and healthy. I don't live for everybody else the way I used to, the way that got me into trouble with my sanity! I think that most of us are good people, only a few spoil the bunch. Too bad that some are too blind to see or accept it. Their loss.
    sissiesmama, margom, and Magsulfate like this.
  4. 1
    I too am in recovery and the last year of my using, I wasn't a good anything. I would have never stopped if my DON hadn't intervened and although I was fired from my position, they did not call the police and file a report, but instead gave me the option of self reporting to the BON. I never realized that being impaired, my patients were not safe in my care. It took me 5 years in recovery and alot of work on myself to realize that. I am really grateful that my DON stepped in, and forced the hand. Like I said, I would have never quit on my own. I couldn't . My addiction would have only progressed to complete loss. Thanks to you all for listening. Peace
    Margo
    sissiesmama likes this.
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    Quote from margom
    I too am in recovery and the last year of my using, I wasn't a good anything. I would have never stopped if my DON hadn't intervened and although I was fired from my position, they did not call the police and file a report, but instead gave me the option of self reporting to the BON. I never realized that being impaired, my patients were not safe in my care. It took me 5 years in recovery and alot of work on myself to realize that. I am really grateful that my DON stepped in, and forced the hand. Like I said, I would have never quit on my own. I couldn't . My addiction would have only progressed to complete loss. Thanks to you all for listening. Peace
    Margo
    I have never understood some institutions policy that they will fire a nurse instead of helping them get into a recovery program (if the addict chooses to).
    I come from a long family history of addiction and I can see the tendancy in myself. Money, food etc.
    I was married to a non recovering addict for 10 years thinking I could love him into changing.....NOT. My dad (rest his recovered alcoholic soul) finally got me to go to a Al-anon meeting and I learned about me, and I learned about the disease.
    13 years later, met a wonderful man who is now 8 years clean and we go 12 stepping together...LOL. Sometimes I go to NA with him, sometimes he goes to Nar-Anon with me. We make recovery a family thing and it has helped us both to grow as a couple. God bless all of you who are recovering and prayers to all who are still out there hurting. Cazbeez...I really enjoy (?? can't think of another word) your messages of hope.
  6. 0
    To Burn Out:
    Studying this now in school: The signs and symptoms are:
    1.nurse appears to be a workaholic, offering to work extra shift
    2. works areas where many commonly abused drugs are used
    3. likes to care for pts with diminished awareness
    4. pts under nurses care reports ineffective relief of pain soon after supposed admn
    5. quality or qty of nurses work changes
    6. increased irritability with pts and collegaes followed with extrem calm
    7. social isolation, eats alone and avoid unit social function
    8. goes to the bathroom alot
    9. extreme/rapid mood swings
    10. strong interest in narcotics or the narcotic cabinet
    11. Sudden dramatic change in personal grooming
    12. extreme defensiveness regarding med errors

    Huston, Carol (2006). Professional Issues in Nursing:; Cahllenges & Opportunites Lippincott, Williams, & Wilkins p. 320
  7. 2
    A majority of these symptoms can also be indicative of a psych disorder and not necessarily an addiction problem. If any of you have worked with a Type 1 unmedicated bipolar you know what I'm saying. Then there are the untreated ppl with BPD.
    margom and santababy52 like this.
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    Having personal experience I really understand some of these responses. However, nurse's are caregivers to everyone but their own.
    Police bond together,our military bonds together and fire fighters.
    There are a large majority of nurse's out there that will not only put you in your coffin,they will help nail it shut.
    I know this statement is going to make people angry but it is true,and I hate that it is.
    Reporting a nurse you suspect might be on drugs is a career, life ruining event. Alot of people out there actually believe that a nurse who is using drugs let people in pain suffer. It's actually the complete opposite. What they really do is take a prn med ordered for a patient who is not in pain.
    If you suspect a fellow colleague is on drugs start paying close attention to behavior,appearence,excessive complaints from home,how is that nurse interacting with both fellow colleagues and patients,mood swings,losing weight etc. Confront her/him first. If you feel or see that her clinical performance poses a threat to patients,you must report ASAP. If a nurse is having a problem with drugs,that is a medical condition that calls for a Dr. A nurse and mental health worker for treatment.Are we or are we not nurse's?
    For example; I would confront,intervene,give that nurse the opportunity to seek some sort of treatment and it your satisfied with the result,you saved a life.
  9. 1
    You are correct in saying that we nurses need to be more supportive of each other.

    I do take issue with several of your statements, though.

    Reporting a nurse you suspect might be on drugs is a career, life ruining event.
    It can be a career- and life-ruining event if the nurse is actually using and has not asked for help. But the reality is that the reporting didn't ruin things--the using did. Reporting can actually save both the nurse and anyone who may stand to be harmed by her actions--on or off the job.

    Alot of people out there actually believe that a nurse who is using drugs let people in pain suffer. It's actually the complete opposite. What they really do is take a prn med ordered for a patient who is not in pain.
    I'm sure many nurses do exactly what you have described. Unfortunately, there are also many who divert from those who really need the meds. One way they get caught is when patients start to complain that their pain is not being relieved. Sad, but true.

    Confront her/him first.
    In some cases, this is not the best choice. Addictive thinking can get hostile and ugly. It can also set the reporter up for retaliation or even entrapment efforts to shift the blame.

    A nurse who has suspicions should report factual objective evidence--not what she thinks it means. Remember that from nursing school? Say something like, "I've had three patients complain in two days that their pain never decreased after their day shift meds. Alicia was the nurse that gave those meds in all three cases." Not, "I think Alicia may be taking patients' meds," or, "I think Alicia has a drug problem."

    If you feel or see that her clinical performance poses a threat to patients,you must report ASAP.
    This one we agree on.

    Thanks for your thoughtful post.
    santababy52 likes this.
  10. 2
    I agree with Miranda though I do understand what Sara62 is trying to say.

    However, addiction among nurses is not the issue that is going to bond us, trust me!

    We do need unity in nursing and I hope one day we get it.

    Actively using addicted nurses need to be pulled out of patient care ASAP. There is a LOT of progress that still needs to be made in the field of addicted health care professionals. I think we have an ok start. I do think we need a heck of a lot more education.

    All in good time I hope.
    sissiesmama and santababy52 like this.


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