Nurses on drugs?

  1. I'm a nursing student and in one of our recent classes our teacher discussed the prevalence of nurses that were addicted to drugs and got their hands on them, in one way or another, illegally. I was wondering if anyone has had to deal with a fellow nurse addicted to drugs, whether it be pain killers or illegal drugs, and how they delt with it? It is really common? Any interesting stories?
  2. Visit livinginasong profile page

    About livinginasong

    Joined: Oct '05; Posts: 2


  3. by   traumaRUs
    While I don't think the prevalence of nurses using drugs is that widespread it does happen. An estimate that I obtained from an article is 6.4% of nurses are currently addicted or have substance abuse histories. So, I don't think its that prevalent. I've been a nurse for 13 years and have known several either currently using or in recovery. I don't think telling interesting stories is in the best interest of this BB, so will refrain from doing so. You certainly can do an OVID search if you want more information.

    Here's my reference for the article I cited:
  4. by   zambezi
    I know lots of nurses that have done/dabble with drugs but never at work, nor do they come to work impaired in the least. Personally, I don't know anyone that has come to work or stolen medications from their patients. But I do know that it happens more frequently that one would think. Just before I got hired into the unit that I currently work on, they had to get rid of someone for stealing drugs and working imparied. I think that he kept his license but had to go through all kinds of stuff with the board of nursing and the nurse monitoring program. Our BON publishes a list of "offenders" for various offenses quarterly (or mabye yearly??, not quite sure) and there are always alot of names listed for drug related offenses.
  5. by   livinginasong
    I guess interesting stories wasn't such a good idea now that you mention it. How do you deal with a fellow nurse if you discovery she has an addiction?
  6. by   sjrn85
    There have been numerous threads about this. Try doing a search; you'll get all the info you could ever want.

    I also don't think it's appropriate to be telling tales about co-workers. It really bothers me that people post intimate details about their co-workers here; this is a public BB.
  7. by   Nurse Ratched

    To the OP: sometimes a search here is difficult if you don't know what terms to use. "Impaired" is the word you are looking for. This search yields a combination of threads on stealing narcs and working while taking substances for legitimate medical needs. Hope it's helpful.
  8. by   KatieBell
    I have worked with 2 impaired nurses. One was obvious and the other I was personally shocked when that nurse was escorted off the unit. It really, in my opinion, is a tragedy when this occurs- not only is this person facing a difficult addiction, but possible loss of income.

    Our school started to have the SBI nurse investigator come and talk to the students- telling "interesting stories" specifically about investigations (not specific people), how they come about, how they work. She has done some undercover work to investigate. At the time (nem nursing student) I wondered how she could just start to work on a floor and not have anyone notice- but now I understand how people come and go on the job- no one would ever suspect that their new "traveler" is really SBI. She also discussed repercussions and resources available in this situation. I found her talk to be very useful- you might consider inviting your SBI investigator to the school. She had excellent ways of dealing with addiction and theft of controlled substances-
  9. by   GrnHonu99
    I have known two. My prof., and sorry I dont have a citation for take with a grain of salt...says that there is a statistic out there that says on average one nurse on every floor is/has diverted meds. Yikes..I hope that is not true. I will ask her MOnday where she got that, shes all about the research so i'm sure it came from somewhere!
  10. by   SFCardiacRN
    In school we were told 10% of nurses "dip into the candy jar" within 2 years of getting a license. I don't know if this is true but the school backed it up with statistical data. I suspect the number of "job impaired" nurses is much lower. Locally, I only hear about 1 or 2 cases a year of nurses being sent to rehab.
  11. by   subee
    Quote from livinginasong
    I guess interesting stories wasn't such a good idea now that you mention it. How do you deal with a fellow nurse if you discovery she has an addiction?
    Contact your state nurses association. They will be able to supply you with materials describing how chemical dependency problems are handled in your state. Some states have mandatory reporting laws for facilities, but RN's also have a code of ethics we must follow. " How do you deal with a fellow nurse.." is a very big subject . Each state has some type of "peer assistance" program with nurses who's specialty is specifically providing assistance to these nurses. Good subject for a student paper. There's no reason to suspect that nurses have any "resistance" to addictions and some specialties have higher occurence rates than the general public or other nurse specialties. One trait of a profession is being able to protect the public and protect your members at the same time - very delicate work.