Drug @ Alcohol Nursing

  1. GoodMorning, Everyone

    I hope all of you had a pleasent weekend. I have a question what catagory would Drug/ Alcohol Nursing fall under. I went to the psychiatric and rehabilitation nursing discussion board and I did not see anything listed. Are there any drug/alcohol nurses out there? What catagory would this type of nursing fall under? What is a typical day like working as a drug/alcohol nurse? What are the pros/cons of this type of nursing? What type of experience if any would I need to work in this setting? Thank You


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    About giggles66

    Joined: Apr '03; Posts: 68
    Nurses Aid


  3. by   Nurse Ratched
    Addictions nursing is a component of psych. As far as a typical day, like any area of nursing, that's kind of hard to wrap your brain around because it depends on your facility. I work prn at an inpatient med-psych unit where folks are frequently detoxed. People may be in full dt's or just a little shaky. They may be agreeable, or they may be cranky and drug-seeking because they are there against their will.

    I didn't have any soecial training when I went into it. It's helpful to be able to be firm. Unlike other areas of nursing, this requires saying "no" a lot . Like other areas of nursing, you should be prepared to hear a certain amount of verbal abuse. It can be ugly at times.

    I can't really speak to a typical day in a longer-term ETOH/drug setting beyond that there would be group programming.
  4. by   jnette
    Giggles, I think it would depend on where you work. Before going to dialysis, I worked for 3 years at a private chemical dependency facility. I was a tech, but very close to the nurses there and able to witness their frustrations.

    As said above, there is much verbal abuse, foul language (which is pretty much to be expected) and a LOT of manipulation on the patients' part. A lot of drugseeking as well. It seemed that the nurses spent all of their day giving meds and little else. Anything that might have involved other medical concerns was sent over the the local hospital or ER. It was much like "babysitting". I know the nurses would burn out a lot, and there was much turnover. I could no longer tolerate it after 3 years myself. The place (while the program itself was excellent) seemed to be a revolving door.

    The few successes were exciting and wonderful, but the overwhelming majority was relapse after relapse after relapse. Some would just like to come back to see all their "friends" from the last go-round and "hang out" awhile...see who else had come back.

    It was also a dualdiagnosis facility, so we were dealing with a LOT of dysfunctional individuals. After awhile, it really gets to you.
    Think you have to be pretty psych oriented to be in this area of nursing.. at least if it's strictly a chem/dependancy facility. It did get old seeing the same faces return year after year or only after several months. I understand relapse is part of the disease, but it's so disheartening and frustrating at the same time.
  5. by   Liddle Noodnik
    I worked in chemical dependency for a year and a half. Very little of it was passing meds. I did a lot of one-on-one, led some groups, even drove a van full of patients to a local park (Portland Head Light in Maine). It was wicked fun! I saw a lot of successes and yes several relapses but it was all worth it -- some who struggled over and over would finally seem to "get it" that to put alcohol or drugs in their bodies would lead to more and more use, and to certain behaviors they would never do sober/clean, or to getting into legal, marital, or employment problems. As a recovering alcoholic myself it was even more gratifying. I've been sober 17 years and I often see ex-patients who have been sober since I cared for them and others who are trying again. I am almost more glad to see the "re-runs" because it tells me that when we plant a seed, sometimes it grows right away, and sometimes it takes a long time.

    Manipulative behaviors? LOL! That is an understatement! But my ex-husband, he was the KING! Please note the "ex", LOL!
  6. by   jnette
    Hi Zoboboey !

    Yes, as a tech I did much of what you described as well... taking the clients out to parks, shopping, etc. and that truly WAS fun !
    Also led some groups, and they were interesting, to be sure.

    But the counselors did most of the one on one, and I noticed that the nurses really were only involved in giving meds. Most of the nurses were also recovering ETOH/Chems themselves. They would give their input, but it was a difficult role for them as they were the ones holding the key to the "meds". And the nurses did find their role frustrating.

    Yes, in many respects it was gratifying, and I, too, would much prefer to see someone come back than continue on with selfdestruction out on the street... but the ups and downs are so intense... the hopes, excitement, then the disappointment... that it really did take a toll. I'm sure it's no different than for the patient him/herself... even more so.

    I guess you really have to be cut out for this to not be affected negatively or burn out. I think what caused me most grief in the end, was the "business" aspect of it. It appeared that many of the "rules" set in place, and the "contracts" with the patients would often be overlooked or "waived" when the census was low...
    This would then affect those patients who were giving it their all, to see the discrepancies... and it would cause chaos amongst the client family as well as the staff.

    It's not easy to watch. My heart goes out to anyone in recovery. I know it is MUCH, MUCH harder for and on them, than for those of us caring for them.
  7. by   Liddle Noodnik
    I guess I was really fortunate; I didn't have that kind of a role. Of course it was a few years back, before people had to be practically dying to get admitted. It was pretty relaxing.

    Hear ya about contacts and bending the rules when census is low, yeah RIGHT! teaches the pts that manipulation is ok if it is necessary.
  8. by   tigger2sassy
    i work in a similiar environment-- with young adults from ages 30 to 60-- what a change from geriatrics-- my facility deals with residents on a long term basis-- it is really a challenge-- you get to wear many hats on my unit-- from social worker to nurse to whatever may come up-- it can be heartbreaking a lot of the time-- but for right now i am proud that i made the switch-- ya gotta think fast on your feet to stay ahead of these guys-- what really gets ya is having someone who is the same age as you-- you can really appreciate what you have in life-- after all it could be you