I had to take care of druggies today, and was disgusted!

  1. Hello everybody. I am a new nurse and I had my first patient who was a drug user yesterday. I took care of him but found it difficult to deal with having a patient like him as he was basically using the system to get his drugs. His problems all came from using drugs and that is why he was there, but this man was in no pain or having no anxiety attacks but requested pain medication around the clock stating no relief, mind you he was laughing, being disrespectfuly at times and wanted me to wait on him hand and foot. I refused to cut up his salad, because there was nothing wrong with hands. I took good care of him but i did not want to be really bothered with him as there were really sick people in the hospital that needed my attention. I just do not know why drug users are allowed to get away with this. The hospital is basically providing all their drugs. Was I wrong to feel this way?
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  2. 41 Comments

  3. by   EricJRN
    Definitely sounds like a frustrating situation. Here's how I keep things in perspective: We have separate systems in the US that have different goals. In the healthcare system, we try to make people's physical and emotional problems better. In law enforcement, they catch and detain the bad guys. In the judicial system, they pass judgment on people and seek punishment for crimes. I just have to remind myself which system I work for whenever I feel the urge to do something besides try to make people better.
  4. by   prmenrs
    I'd just suggest focusing on why he was admitted to the hospital in the 1st place. Work w/fellow staff to set some limits. And be careful not to let him play one staff member against another.

    I went to nursing school in a nice, private community hospital. Then I went to work in a University teaching hospital that had been a county hospital w/in 2 years prior to that.

    I saw more pts w/DTs in the 1st week than I had seen the entire 3 years @ the other hospital. I was in a state of shock for a bit!
  5. by   RENAISSANCE RN
    Very Frustrating.. I guess you just have to say that he is a human being and you did a very good job of treating him like one.


    You will run into many more like him, I am afraid. I know of a case while I was in Nursing School. I was observing the ER and a patient ( known drug user) stabbed himself in the leg with a knife to get pain meds.


    Merry XMas and continue to be a great Nurse
  6. by   Fiona59
    Personally, I would rather look after a "druggie" than someone who is kept alive because their family "can't bear to say goodbye" when they know there is no hope for recovery and stop visting after six months and when they do show up THEIR guilt makes them critique and micromanage their "loved" ones care.

    Just remember "there go I bar the grace of God."
  7. by   Schatzi RN CEN
    This is a very difficult subject and it can be very hard to maintail a professional attitude. We do have to remember, though that addiction is an illness. The patients we see are usually master manipulators, but besides that they are also victims of their addictions.

    That being said I have to admit that this is something I have to remind myself of constantly, because these people are abrasive, manipulative lyers and can make it very hard to remember that somewhere behind that addiction is a sick human being.
  8. by   VivaLasViejas
    Quote from Schatzi RN CEN
    This is a very difficult subject and it can be very hard to maintail a professional attitude. We do have to remember, though that addiction is an illness. The patients we see are usually master manipulators, but besides that they are also victims of their addictions.

    That being said I have to admit that this is something I have to remind myself of constantly, because these people are abrasive, manipulative lyers and can make it very hard to remember that somewhere behind that addiction is a sick human being.
    Well said.:yeahthat: :yeahthat:
  9. by   jesa
    instead of frustration maybe you should educate yourself on addiction. drug addiction is a disease, your patient is in the hospital. feel thankful you are not plagued with addiction and treat every patient with the same respect, regardless of their disease
  10. by   hoyt69
    Empathy is a big part of nursing. We don't get to choose what illnesses our pt.s' have. Please educate yourself on addiction.
    Last edit by gwenith on Dec 30, '06 : Reason: personal attack
  11. by   BKRN
    Quote from hoyt69
    Empathy is a big part of nursing. We don't get to choose what illnesses our pt.s' have. Please educate yourself on addiction.
    I did not find her post to be offensive at all. Good grief, she never said that this pt disgusted her. She was simply voicing her fustrations, which we have ALL felt. To the OP, You have to realize that Drug addiction is a disease, a very sad one. With these type of pts you do have to set boundries while still providing excellent care. I understand your frustrations though.
    Last edit by gwenith on Dec 30, '06 : Reason: quoted personal attack
  12. by   SuesquatchRN
    I dunno, I guess I wish that we had a saner legal system as regards drugs. What a drain on the system, and on these addicts' lives, to have such draconian punishments for people who just want to numb themselves that they resort to such tactics to get drugs.

    There are certain diseases that annoy me because I perceive them to be somewhat within the control of the patent. I still have to have empathy for their sufferers, including the obese diabetic COPDer complaining that she can't take her pills whole, needs them in pudding, and won't eat them in applesauce while she's sitting on the commode chomping on Sun Chips that her husband brought in for her against our pleas not to.

    Lots of diseases and their comorbidities include denial.

  13. by   Kymmi
    I didnt find this posting offensive at all either. I completely understand where the OP is coming from. I realize that addiction is a disease. We see so many people with many forms of illness but I do find it much more difficult to care for someone who could have control over the disease if they'd accept responsiblity for their actions. There is a difference between a drug addiction and a 40 year old woman dying of breast cancer. They both cause illness however how many times have you taken care of someone that is struck with a life changing illness and would do anything possible to overcome that illness and cherish life but they cant. It is very frustrating to see people that can make a difference in their outcomes but chose not to and those are the same people that manipulate and expect us to "fix it" for them. I have much more empathy for those people that want to help themselves compared to people who expect everyone else to take care of them when they refuse to do for themselves.
    I know people are going to say that my view is not a good view but I think we as nurses are so focused on helping everyone that we neglect to see that some people could help themselves. What other profession will take over and "fix" whatever is broken? In all other walks of life we are expected to help ourselves as much as possible.
    If I choose not to do something that I should do no one else comes in and just does it for me because they have empathy for me. I am responsibile for me and I accept that....if I choose not to pay my bills or put gas in my car then it was me neglecting my responsibilities and no one comes along and says let me do it.
  14. by   Shawnina
    I have to admit that I was also offended by the title of the OP, but after reading it I can understand the OP's frustration. I think you would get more helpful replies with a less judgmental title, though.

    I have a loved one that has battled with a drug addiction for about 15 years. I cut off my relationship with this person three years ago due to similar frustrations.

    I believe if you had more experience or exposure to people with addictions, you would understand that no one chooses this life for themselves. They have more than likely made several bad choices to get to that position, but no one aspires to be an addict.

    Addicts deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion just like any other patient, regardless of whether they are using the system. It sounds like you handled the situtaion well, by caring for the patient but also being assertive.

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