Drug Abuse Among Us??

Nurses Safety


Am I that nieve?? A nurse on my unit was arrested for"drug diversion" Is this rampant among us?? I know we have all taken the occasional tylenol from work, but controlled substances ??


566 Posts

Specializes in ER, Hospice, CCU, PCU.

I've bumped up another thread from the General topic threads entitled "Another headline about narcotic diversion that has some good information for you. Hopefully this will answer some of your questions.


577 Posts

Well, yes!

I had a collegue, who drank the caughingsirups right from the bottle!

Took awhile to find out about this, till one night I saw him doing this. Of course he denied everything, but I knew what I saw. I felt really bad about this, he was (WAS) married to a nurse too and they have two (at that time, little) boys.

His attitude at work became worse and worse and finally, we (2 other nurses and I) reported him to the nursing director.

he went into therapy again and again and after 4 times, the hospital and we too were absolutely fed up with him.

His wife divorced him, his boys (now grown up) don't want to see him anymore and I am very sad to say, he is living on welfare.

Sometimes I see him on the street, but he doesn't know who I am any longer.

Really sad, I felt bad about this for a long time, as did my fellow nurses on that ward.

But we tried, gave him more than 1 chance (more 3 or 4) but it was impossible.

So please stay away from, even harmless looking and tasting caughingsirup, all stuff that influences your mind and in the end your body!!

Take care, Renee


5 Posts

I can't help thinking you are a little naive. Drug use in the general population and amongst women is increasing all the time. A new report today stated that male professionals are amongst the highest users of cocaine and MDMA. Why should nursing be any different? It is a high stress occupation and very often an emotionally draining one in which we learn over years to take great care of others but often take less care of ourselves. The medical profession is one of the highest for alcohol dependence and associated suicide and the availability of mood-altering substances in nursing has got to be a factor in this increase of substance use.

It is a sad fact that we often aren't trained to recognise the signs in our patients let alone our colleagues and it is still a shocking thing to find out that someone we work closely with is caught in a deceitful cycle of stealing drugs at work.

This is a really important topic. Good on you for raising it!



11 Posts

After working in Home Health Care for 8 years, I re-entered Extended Care work. I was in total shock when I found that there was a nurse that had been seen licking the Duragesic patches on my unit!!!

And of late, we had a very nice night nurse who was medicating our residents with their PRN narcotics.....not a bad thing to do, but none of these residents had a history of using their PRN's as often as she was administering them......Then she started forging other nurses signatures on narcotic sheets!!!! Thank goodness she was still in her probationary period and was let go.

I'm shocked by such behavior but I gather it's not as rare as I once thought it was.



735 Posts

About a year ago my wife sat me down and expressed concern for the amount of alcohol I was drinking. I never drank before work and never worked impaired but as soon as I clocked out and got in the truck I popped a beer or bought a coke and spiked it for the ride home. After I got home I'd have a couple more. Never really got drunk but I was drinking daily.

At first I denied that there was any kind of problem but when I sat back and looked at it I realized that it at least COULD be the start of one.

I then quit drinking completely for 6 months (more or less) and began to feel and look better (they don't call it a beer belly for nothing).

I drink now but it is limited to social occasions or a glass of wine with my honey after the kids are crashed.

I've never been tempted to take other drugs (like from work). They just don't appeal to me.

I consider myself fortunate to have someone who was concerned enough to worry about me and let me realize the unsafe path I was on.

I have seen many nurses who I have suspected were getting into the med cart and have witnessed some get busted.

It's not a pretty sight to see someone lose their career like that.



29 Posts

I want to add a comment here with respect to substance abuse

among the medical profession(esp alcohol) The national statistics indicate that one out of 4 Americans is either affected by an

alcoholic or is alcoholic themselves. Given that number, a fairly

large percentage of physicians and nurses may be impaired. I think it is unfortunate that people are fired, perhaps with the

exception of use on the job or diverting narcs. Many otherwise

productive people are lost. A mandatory treatment program

with follow-up monitoring might be one option. I know... I've been sober 16 years; IF PEOPLE WANT TO BE CLEAN AND SOBER BADLY ENOUGH, FOR THEMSELVES, THEY WILL SUCCEED, ONE DAY AT A TIME. Self-help organizations such as AA and

NA do help. Maybe a good CEU or training course for management might be how to recognize the impaired nurse/physician. Often people don't know the signs of narcotic dependence /etoh dependence. Just a thought.



992 Posts

We had a nurse who was caught forging a script. She was also suspected of stealing narcs from the pharmacy, but it could not be proved with absolute certainity. Well, because of this she was taken out of direct patient care and given a paperwork position. Mon-Fri, no weekends, no holidays. Straight days. Sure has caused a lot of hard feelings at work. I can see both sides of this issues. I am just not sure where I stand. I can see the side of where people are upset because it seems like she got a promotion. But I also see the side that this nurse is an excellent nurse who has been an important part of our facility for over 13 years with a perfect record up until the script forging incident. I can see how anyone can get mixed up with drugs. I am sure this is a topic that will be debated for decades to come.

Jenny P

1,164 Posts

Specializes in CV-ICU.

I read somewhere that the medical profession has the same amount of chem dep problems as the rest of the general population-- something like 10% I think. Morghan, I think your quote for 1 in 4 has to do with those who are affected by others may refer to families of abusers: 1 drunk can affect a whole lot of other people.


96 Posts

How about this one....

Worked with a nurse who called and asked that we save, not waste, unused portions of narcotics for her 'headaches'.


712 Posts

Before I became a nurse I use to work as a unit secretary L&D floor. I always admired one of the nurses that worked there. She was very knowledgeable, caring to her patients, and helpful to anyone who needed help. You would never thought she was abusing demerol. I was heartbroken I wanted to be like her someday. She did go to rehab and got cleaned up but the stigma of a drug addict was too much there and she quit. My vision of her didn't change I still thought she was a good nurse who stumbled along the way. I later found out she had some personal problems and needed some help. What was so bad was her fellow so called friends bad mouthed her stating how they could never do that. I stress to them that you do not know what road she has to ride on. You are not perfect and you will never be the nurse she is. They were shocked when I blurted it out to them because she is human who has a problem. I receive the BRN report and it is amazing most of the RNs who lose their license is for drug abuse. My dilemma is if you see a co-worker abusing drugs what do you do? Do you tell your charge nurse or confront that nurse in private? My psych instructor said no confront that nurse and my ADv Med/Surg inst says yes tell your immediate supervisor! Fortunately I haven't had to do it. But I think I would tell them to either get help take a leave of absence. If they refused then I would have to report them. In the long run you would be helping them and saving a patient from potential harm.


104 Posts

Okay, now a view from the other side of the fence. I have a chronic pain problem for which I have prescribed narcotics. I'm always careful never to take them on work days, never go to work impaired, and refuse to take them within 24 hours of the beginning of a shift (would rather suffer than to go to work impaired or call in sick which is very rare). I've asked my physician to change me over to a longer acting *non*narcotic pain med, but he doesn't feel it would work, and I would still need just as many narcotics as I currently do now for breakthrough pain.

Everyone I work with knows I have chronic pain. I'm always careful about my narcotic wastes because the LAST thing I want to do is be accused of diverting narcotics from the ER. I've had RN's sign off on wastes with me, then start to leave the med room before I actually waste the drug, I make them come back in and physically watch me waste that drug. Yeah, it's a pain for me (and for them) to do this, but I'm covering my butt. Once I remind nurses about my reasoning, they're very understanding. Perhaps in some places we make it just a little too easy for our co-workers to divert these drugs....

Just my own little 2 cents....

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