Pot Smoking and Nursing - page 6

Im angry. I work for a small clinic in Northern CA. There are three RN's on staff at all time. Recently our Office Manager decided to start drug testing of all staff including Doctors. Well, one... Read More

  1. by   ChristenLPN
    There have been so many good and valid points made here that forming a solid opinion behind which one can stand consistently is a challenge. At heart I have always been a "live and let live" kind of girl, and so it's hard for me to feel that it's truly OK for your employer to monitor what you do on your own time. But I also have never smoked pot, and even though I do find a lot of laws stupid, I have always lived with the notion that it is in my best interest to respect them. If I accept a job with a company that says, "Drugs are illegal and we expect you to refrain", then I don't have much defense for myself if I willfully violate that. The point about people validating and rationalizing what they want to do was also well taken- my husband and I are great fans of all kinds of wine. But it must matter that ETOH is in fact legal. Never having used pot, I cannot accurately compare the after-effects of the two, but it was always my feeling that ETOH is legal partly because it can be enjoyed safely and sensibly. I have some wine nearly every evening but can't remember the last time I got even a buzz, so I know that ETOH can be used with very little, if any, imparment resulting. This of course changes considerably with every drop consumed, and so I fully agree with the concern of being able to detect any hint of it in a co-worker. So much of this argument, I think, lies in the necessity of believing what you're told by the user in question; if someone tells you, "Oh, I just used some mouthwash", it is hard to totally trust that because if you totally trusted this individual you wouldn't have asked in first place. We also are asked to trust in that person's assessment of his or her own abilities (I've only had one drink, one joint, one Benadryl, I got 4 hours of sleep & that's plenty for me, etc). Someone who has never had Benadryl would have a very hard time putting total faith in what he/she was told by someone who had taken it recently and looked or acted a little differently than usual. This kind of trust is hard for most people anyway, but especially for people like us who have the opportunity to hear so much BS and denial from the patients we see. Cynicism sort of grows on its own whether you want it to or not. And even though nurses should not be held to any higher standard of sainthood than anyone else, there are a few factors that set us apart. If my father, who is a banker, goes to work sleep-deprived or post-Benadryl, that's far from ideal, but he is very unlikely to seriously endanger anyone. My job involves a lot more reponsibility for the physical wellbeing of others, which I knew when I took the job, and it's something I take very seriously. I would call in sick if I felt unable to safely care for my patients for any reason because it is part of the responsibillty toward others that I accepted when I chose this profession. I also have a detailed description of how I am to perform my job, and instead of being a company policy, this is a law. My license is of great value to me, and since I'm not the one who made up the rules of how to keep it, I don't have a lot of choice except to abide by them. If I don't like them, then I can get another job with fewer specifics of desired behavior.

    Just sort of thinking out loud here, but it is very obvious that this is a real hot button here. We should not judge lest we be judged- other people have lived in circumstances we know nothing about, and everyone is entitled to an opinion. We do need to stand up for and beside each other, and all of our patients deserve the best we can give them.
  2. by   suzannasue
    alas...and once and for all...the use if the foamy alcohol foam for hand cleaning generates a powerful etoh aroma...i have had pts ask what I was drinking after I had used this product and have put my hands before their noses for them to know exactly where the aroma of alcohol originated. The "fruity" smell lof etoh lingers for only a few moments but there have been several nurses other than my friend sent for breathalyzers due to the "foam". There gave also been nurses sent for breathalyzer testing at this facility because they "smelled a little fruity"...all results were negative and the culprit of the suspicious odor was never determined yet it was understood that on certain days when "certain nurses" were working, the complaints of etoh smell were more frequently logged. Thus,their attempt to weed out those who did not conform to their belief system. their high expectations of physical attractiveness,their language,etc...was
    manifested by the reporting to administration the nurses they hoped to ruin.
    My terminology shall stand. I use those words with full meaning.
    I know what "those people" did. The term was not used casually.
    And remember...those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.
    Perhaps we should agree to disagree.
  3. by   CATHYW
    Still, how is it possible that someone smells of alcohol and hasn't drunk a drop?
    Take care, Renee [/B]
    Could it be the fruity breath of a diabetic, or some other carbohydrate as it is metabolized?
  4. by   LasVegasRN
    Someone mentioned being a pot smoker for several years and using it on a daily basis. From my generation, it was a "fad" thing to do. The people I know from high school and college that did that outgrew it. Not everyone who uses pot HAS to use it and continues to use it. It's just like alcohol - not every that has had a drink HAS to keep drinking and continues to drink.

    Yes, Sin City has it's vices to be sure. Voters approved the medicinal marijuana law without any problem. STILL, nurses are held to a standard.

    If I get together with my old high school buddies and someone pulls out a bong for "old times sake", do I partake? Would it be prudent of me to do so? Is it worth my license being revoked? Hell no. They can get high all they want, sleep it off and stagger down the Strip the next day. As a professional, I don't have that option. Well, I can stagger, but I prefer to sashay. :roll
  5. by   Fgr8Out
    I think the original issue in this thread was whether or not it was right to insist on drug testing, only to ignore the results when an employee came back positive.

    MrsNurseCA, I understand being miffed by this turn of events. I too, would question the rationale behind drug screening when steps weren't taken (as far as you know) for corrective measures. But beyond that, I don't see that there is much you personally can do to change the current situation, unless you decide to take this to the next level and contact higher authorities. Tough call.

    On another note, if I speed, cheat on my taxes, engage in sexual activities cited illegal by our laws, let my child stay home for a hangnail, or don't wear my seatbelt .... it will NOT endanger my patients. Most DO affect the public, however, so I PERSONALLY choose to refrain from participating in those behaviors in general.

    It sends a pretty poor message to the people we're trying to educate, when we advocate illegal and possibly health endangering activities.

    ::Returning to her sheltered, cloistered, white picket fenced, Pollyanna, white bread life::

  6. by   mother/babyRN
    I think there is quite a bit of "middle ground"...Probably all we can hope for is to at least meet on some common ground and agree to disagree...Nurses should not HAVE to be considered above everyone else. Nurses are human. They have a right to lives outside their workplace. We may not and DO not always agree to what transpires after work, but this country guarantees us equal freedom..That is why we reside and work here. I'm proud to be an American and NO one is going to take that away from me.
    I haven't elected to partake in drugs. That doesn't make me an angel. That simply speaks of a personal choice. However, I do NOT support random testing on a whim..If a policy is in place prior to hire, and an employee ( Nurse or otherwise) , is impaired, I support intervention and action...
    There is no need or reason to attempt to highten opposite views with either name calling or hightly argumentative banter. It does nothing to solve the discrepancy of opinion and, thought the majority of people involved in that sort of reply, in some way appear to think it swings the pendulum of opinion to THEIR point of view, what it does , in REALITY, is force people to be reactionary vs actually "listening"
    Opposing viewpoints make UP a discussion and don't generally detract from it...
    We're all different, and I personlly respect and enjoy the fact that we are, but NO ONE does or will EVER have the right to surveille me outside of work unless while AT work I engender some sort of impairment to either myself, my co workers or patients..Period....No one ELSE need agree with me on every facet, but a true American has every right to expect some privacy outside the workplace....Like the song says, "This is MY country"....Work is SECOND to family and life in general...And nurses, simply because they are nurses, have every right and expectation to be treated and treat themselves and others, as everyone ELSE does....
  7. by   TRAUMA_RN2000
    This has been a subject of debate for many years now..... Here are the facts: 1. It is considered an illegal substance.
    2. Yes, you may be impared for 24 hours. at a declining rate. therefore the longer it has been since you toked the less impared one is.
    3. Alcohol is just as bad if not worse than smokin a doobie. I am a ER Nurse and I have seen Hundreds if not thousands of cases where people have cause injury and death to others by thier drinking. I can not think of any cases that i was involved with personaly where people were killed due to someone smoking pot.

    Is it right??? People keep saying that it is in your system for 28 days, NOT SO. It will be in your system for 28 days if you are a habitual user. If you smoke pot once in 1 day it is gone. Now if you do an ounce at one time it will be there but just a few hits from a pipe or a joint NOT.

    Also hospitals are quick to jump all over people when they test positive for MJ. I will let you in on a story that happened to me. I was drug screened and I tested positive for pot. Here is the kick, I dont use. I was forced to resign from my job. I was turned in to my state board, sent to a 10 day in patient evaluation for chemicaldependency, Had numerous drug tests ( which were all negative) had a hair follicle test taken which showed up negative. # doctors who deemed me not chemically dependant. Had a DNA sample test performed on the original sample taken by the hospital. But guess what, the hospital failed to maintain that sample so therefor it could not be tested for my DNA nor could it be re drug tested. I ended up getting screwed by my state board. I would have been better off if i would have smoked.

    I know a lot of nurses who partake in this kind of event. Smoking a doob. Never once have i ever smelled it on them at work, or saw any indication of usage. i know they use but It never effected thier job performance. I work in a Level I trauma center in a charity hospital. I know what people look like when they are high, i know the behavior patterns. Nurse who use AFTER work are not necasarily impaired to where patient safety becomes an issue. I would let most of them be my nurse any day of the week. Those that i wouldnt, well i wouldn't let them be my nurse even if they didnt toke. Will the laws ever change. NO
    Will any nursing board look the other way NO. If you are going to do it, Dont do it before work and for gods sake dont get caught you will be in the ringer and there isnt anything one can do about it. I jumpede through all the hoops came out perfect and still got screwed by the board.

  8. by   jstinerich
    Just wait until you're a patient and your night nurse comes in late and "higher than a kite". While you were waiting for shift change, you tried to get up to a chair, you get stuck with a pillow under your middle back. On your left side you have a chest tube, a subclavian, a broken clavicle, a broken patalla and a long leg splint. This nurse wants to just take your vital signs - not position you until all assigned patients' vital signs are gotten. Well, about this time this patient got angry and had an adrenaline rush and pulled the pillow from under the middle of the back and throws it in the direction of the nurse. (The patient had the ability to hit the nurse, but was just angry.) Then this nurse rushes to the patient's left side to assist. Needless to say the patient said, "No, I'll do it myself." After setting yourself you tell the nurse where she placed her thermometer (on the window seal) and proceeded to call the night supervisor to report that you are tired of turning on the call light, nurses' peeking in, seeing you with your eyes closed (what else are you supposed to do at night when you hurt?), and saying "She asleep." It'll change the way you look at nurses even though you yourself are one.
    Oh, one other thing two graduate nurses are assigned to care for the floor you're on and the evening supervisor for whole health facility is their in loco RN. When they position you, you give nursing advice because you are there, you know -- although you warned the GNs you were under the influence of narcotics. They both told you how happy they are for you when your discharged, but also said they'll miss your advice.
    The next admission for a broken jaw not detected during the above visit, your nurse asks you why you didn't just go through outpatient surgery and what was she supposed to do to care for you. Gee, doesn't that make you feel secure!

    He who knows and knows not that he knows, he is asleep - wake him.
    He who knows not and know that he knows not, he is simple - teach him.
    He who knows not and knows not that he knows not, he is a fool avoid him.
    He who knows and knows that he know, he is wise - follow him.
    Last edit by jstinerich on Apr 16, '02
  9. by   nersgirl
    Please... Pot smoking does not lead to crack use. I have friends who have smoked for years and NEVER have even had the urge to try other drugs. Besides, alcohol is just as bad as pot, and no one seems to raise such a stink about that. I totally believe what a nurse does on her own time is her own business... as long as she don't reek of it (alcohol or pot), and it doesn't affect her job performance.
  10. by   jstinerich
    Hey, it's a true story. I have heard that if you do crack even once you may be dependent. Ah, so you have some Peter Pan friends, don't want to grow up. Have you ever noticed that they don't continue any social maturation?
  11. by   Sisu

    Just checking this thread out. I went for a pre-employment physical at a major Trauma Level One Teaching hospital on Monday and there was no drug screening. Do I need to be worried???

    Naive in the Northeast,

  12. by   thisnurse
    if you are saying that smoking pot is a hot button for me, then you are not reading my posts.

    i have two main issues that i will once again restate.


    i just dont get it ....to me this seems so black and white...
    if it is wrong to alter your mind then it is WRONG...PERIOD REGARDLESS OF THE ROUTE.

    how can you tell your kids HONESTLY that its ok to have a couple of drinks but its not ok to alter your mind with other substances?
    WHY is ALCOHOL the ONLY ACCEPTABLE mind altering substance?

    as for the nurse practice acts...
    you have a percentage of nurses who smoke pot to excess and a percentage who drink to excess. they know its wrong and they also know the law BUT you are going to stick the nurse practice act in front of them and they will say...

    oh well gee i didnt know it was against the NURSE PRACTICE ACT...i will NEVER DO THAT AGAIN...
    come on

    my second issue is monitoring our off hour behavior...i resent being put in that position. and i REALLY resent being put in that postition by FELLOW NURSES.

    i live a good and honest life. you will NEVER see my name in your yearly state publication (oh and by the way...what other profession does that?)
    i dont drink. i dont smoke pot. i do smoke cigarettes but am working on quitting. i spend my weekends with my family or trying to catch up on all the things i had to neglect during the week.
    only way you will ever see my name in there is if i bore someone to death.

    i have no desire to tell you what to do when you are off duty..why do so many want to tell me?
  13. by   thewhip
    There is a fellow student I go to nursing school with who smokes weed, has done all drugs and still does ecstasy, and readily admits it. She also likes to pick fist fights with people and cheat on tests... She proceeds to tell everyone about the orgies, etc... she is always involved in, and on top of that, she is not a very "hygenically clean" person if you look at her and observe her nails (dirty) Hair (dirty) teeth (dirty) !!!
    Fine, maybe she will be a completely competent nurse (I doubt it) if she tries hard and quits the test cheating. But you know, she definitely is NOT setting a good example for the profession and if we are like couselors to people and can really make differences in people's lives or persuade people to clean up & quit substance abuse, how can anyone have a clean conscience and do these things while setting setting a good example? Sorry, I think not. I sure hope this fellow student doesn't decide to go into public health (esp. school nursing!) It's pathetic! I hope she gets BUSTED!!!!!!!