Drug Abuse Among Us?? - page 6

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 ??... Read More

  1. by   jude11142
    Originally posted by Duckie
    The attitude I have gotten from many posts here that if anyone routinely takes a narcotic pain relief med, they should not be working. I am speaking for myself and on my own views here. First drug abuse is much different than taking meds scripted by your MD to improve the quality of your life and the ability to maintain having a life. I have a spinal fusion involving 3 disc's in my lower back with radiating nerve damage down my right leg. I also have severe athritic knees from 22 years of walking hard cement floors caring for loved ones of people intrusted into my care. I fought very hard not to start taking pain medications. But when you reach a point, where you are on your knees doing a treatment and your patient has to call a staff member to help you up off the floor because the pain is so great you are frozen, something has to give and this happened to me more than once. My knees are beyond saving . Pain control is the only way to keep me working. I am 46, should I be kicked out of nursing? Should I be expected to work 10-12 hour shifts in so much agony that the tears rolls down my face without my ability to control them. Or should I be taken out and shot like a lame horse, because I am unable to meet the potentil I once did as a younger nurse, and I might add that even on the days of my greatest pain, I can still work circles around many of the whiny new breed intering our facility that calls off because they have a headache. I have finished med passes while passing kidneys stones on 2 occassions. I routinely take pain meds every four hours while working with another narcotic available if that does not make it tolerable. My work performance is not hampered. I think clearly, make vital decisions and have not had a med error in over the seven years at my current facility. So am I empaired. I have ran codes, worked an entire unit alone that was a 2 LN unit, due to call offs, and my average day is 9 - 12 hours. My supervisors know all meds I take. They back me 100% because the old me is back now that my pain is controlled and I can be me again. Please do not" critisize and accuse until you walk a mile in my shoes." My supervisors have even "noticed my pain and asked me to "take a break and give my meds a chance to kick in, to rest a while in the lounge. They do this because they know I never take breaks, I'm there for my patients from start to finish and will work as late as I have to to make sure they have received the very best of care. The discussion at hand is "drug abuse" not medications that are taken as ordered for a good quality of life. If that is the case, then any LN taking an antidepressant or antianxiety medication should also not be allowed to work, because they are also "mind altering". Now instead, let's all go out and get totally drunk the night before, come in hungover and what the dickens and " can I take care of your loved one?" I think not, I'll continue to do it my way and with a very clear peace of mind. Don't judge me till you've felt my pain and walked in my shoes. I would also like to specify that I do not feel "any buzz" from my meds, they have been titrated to minimum dose for maximum effect without those side effects and the principle is keeping the drug level consistant to control pain but not to produce a "High".
    Hi Duckie,

    Well Said!!!! If only others understood that being in severe chronic pain does not mean we are invalids. Because we have finally gotten our pain under control and to the point where we can function again hasn't been an easy road. As you have said, "we do not get "high""from our meds. I can't believe that people in the medical field are so judgemental when it comes to the use of narcotics for chronic pain. There is a difference between addiction vs tolerance and having to take narcotics does not make us junkies. I would never ever put anyone in jeopardy by being "high"......never did drugs(including alcohol), though I suppose nicotine is a drug and yes, I smoke, but that's a whole different topic. I'll stop here, just wanted to let you know that I
    understand completely and really hope that others will be less judgemental.

    Thanks for your post,

    I certainly hope that you didnt get the impression that I consider Drug abuse as the same as Drug use. There is a clear cut difference I learned that working hospice. Very simple theory... and backed up by science. The pain receptors in the brain are coated with the medications, to relieve pain. If you are in pain or have chronic pain the receptors are just coated enough for pain relief. If you are not in pain and you take pain medications and recieve the"high" then it places the receptors in a addictive /active sense.Increasing the need for more to produce the high. Yet those that abuse the drug thrive from the high itself.Those in chronic pain hardly get relief much less a high.(The lock and key theory)

    I have worked with many nurses that had high function of abilities when medicated for chronic pain. The majority that I know have been on meds for years,, some even on pumps and if given half the chance they would be off them immediately. They stay on the boarder line of the pain threshold even when medicated. Its not due to the fact of wanting to risk thier facultys its the fact that they have been in pain for so long its next to impossible for them to be in anything but slight relief.

    Im not referring by any means to those Nurses when I speak of Drug abuse amoung us... I speak about those that steal from the patients, take their pain meds, fill the syringes with NS and knowingly allow the patients to needlessly suffer because of their own addictions. Those are the nurses and other Healthcare people I want removed. Those that think of themselves and their needs before the care of the patient.
    Just my thoughts
  3. by   JWaldron
    When I was in grad school one of the courses I took was about supervision and management in substance abuse rehab programs. We had an expert in the field of impaired professionals come in to meet with us, and she maintained that statistically, healthcare professionals (nurses, doctors, et al) have a 20% probability of being abusers, while the general population has a 10% probability. She also said that many nurses and doctors are ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics), and often first-born. Part of our caretaker nature, I guess. I know from listening to many of my coworkers that the ACOA part sure seems to be true!

    And years ago, when I was a Unit Clerk in the ER, I kept finding fistsfull of syringes behind the lockers (I had to kick my locker door to get it to open or close, and they would fall down); I always gave them to the charge nurse, who was very offhanded about it, and just put them back in the med room (!) Now I'm wised-up enough that I would report that behavior to the Unit Manager, becasue it sure isn't a normal storage place for needles to be kept!

  4. by   mother/babyRN
    It isn't easy to accept that some of us have to take meds just to get through the day and function, and it seems that is something that was brought up here. No one wants to be considered a drug user or abuser, but the fact it, semantics doesn't take away from the fact that if you require meds to function, you are dependent upon them. There is surely a line dividing things, but to those who feel no pity or compassion for those unfortunate people who made choices to go into this type of lifestyle either on purpose or however, I question the ability to "really" care for people. There but for the grace of God go I...I don't have to agree, appreciate or condone someone's bad, unfortunate and sad choices, but I DO respect their humanity, whether I like or agree with what they have or have not chosen to do with their own life and the lives of those it directly affects...I am not perfect, and I don't expect anyone else to be....The big lesson in nursing, as far as I am concerned, is to realize and accept that there are no black and white areas, and to somehow figure out how to negotiate in and around the many shades of gray...
  5. by   NurseDianne
    Just a reminder, it's not only nurses......but the docs, CRNA's, EMT-P's........we have had several incidents over the past years....even a mother/daugher team that were injecting themselves w/ the pain meds insteads of the patient. Gave them NS.
    Nursing is stressful. I honestly think more hospitals should offer stress management classes, maybe this would help.
  6. by   nursenatalie
    I just read all the posts trying to get an idea of the thoughts here. I was most shocked by the post that said it is okay to keep drugs instead of waste them. This is not an area to be thrifty!! Just because the patient is discharged, moved to another floor or doesnt require the full dose doesnt mean that the nurse has the right to use the remainder or whatever she is going to do with it. I dont want to personally attack the person who said that but if you have your license, and enjoy your career, you should re-evaluate your beliefs because that is immoral and illlegal...whew!
  7. by   mother/babyRN
    Even if I put together a pain med for a patient and it isn't busy I will always always always make sure one of my coworkers sees that it is actually the med ordered and amount, before I ever give it to the pt. With a waste, I am super sure to make sure someone actually witnesses the waste and will NEVER take someones word that they wasted something and just sign....Also, even if I have taken care of the patient numerous times, I lightheartedly say, " I know you're you but I just want to check your arm band." Makes them AND me feel better and leaves no questions for the future. Can't be too careful these days, and my co workers go along with me without complaint......I am not perfect but I AM careful....
  8. by   ohioln
    I once worked in a long term care facility and there was a nurse there that took a lot of pills from the narcotics box. She also seemed to be high at other times. She was eventually left go, due to lack of work. At the same place, there was a very nice nurse who seemed to drink a lot. One night one of the other nurses said that she had to send him to the hospital. He eventually lost his license and I heard later that he had died. It was such a shame. Another nurse there was drunk at work. They sent her to rehab twice, but she would start drinking again, so she was eventually fired too. She later got married. I haven't heard from her in years. I hope she's doing well. It's so sad, I hope people can get help. It might seriously compermise pt care if people are in this condition working, and I feel bad for them personaly. Another nurse at the same place we thought was stealing Darvocets for his wife, who was on drugs. He got fired eventually too. What a shame!
    Last edit by ohioln on Feb 26, '03
  9. by   marc's mom
    Yea, pretty much. I'm a living example. A nurse (or a ny person ) who is not prepared to handle all of the stressors we are faced with day to day has a good likelyhood of turning to substances for relief. I think nursing schools should address this problem because it's more common than you think. Just look at your newsletters from your state board and see the amount of reprimands, suspensions and terminations. It stinks.
  10. by   marc's mom
    To ITSJUSTMEZOE post 65 = when you leap off your high horse then you can read you own post and see that you place yourself above other humans. Don't forget, we are not perfect, not even you!
    To Mother/babyRN post 67 - BRAVO! I couldn't have said it any better. Thank You for your empathy.
  11. by   froglady
    My Last job the DON wreaks of alcohol everyday. The Administrator knows it and it has been reported to him from several nurses, but to this day has done nothing wbout it.
  12. by   ThirdWorldGirl
    I have 2 stories to tell in regards to nurses abusing drugs:

    When I was in labor with my first daughter I was in excruciating pain but had made my husband promise to not let me talk anyone into giving me anything for pain wanted to do it all natural *young and dumb what can i say* anyway as the labor progressed I finally convinced him that i desperately needed something for pain and the dr. ordered me to have Demerol, well this nurse gives me an injection and I swear to God it didn't do anything for me, a couple of years later this nurse lost her license for replacing Demerol with saline and right there in the med room (caught in the act) shooting her own thigh with the Demerol. Still to this day convinced all I got was saline.

    Then when I had just newly graduated from LVN school I went to work at a long term care facility, and one night the other LVN I was working with needed my keys to get into the supply closet (no clue why there was only one key to the supply closet not both sets of keys) but anyway, later that night when the night shift LVN came in and we were counting narcotics, she dumped this resident's Lortab bottle and I just about crapped down both legs, in replacement were 28 Parafon Forte (I'll never forget the medicine nor the number do to that) and I was new didn't know what to do, called the DON, the administrator, and said we should call the sherrif's department, all said "no" to calling them, next day he and I both get the pleasure of doing a drug test, and having to go take a polygraph test. I passed the drug test, he didn't. We both failed the polygraph test. (my failing was because I answered NO to being asked if I had done anything I didn't want anyone to know about.. was told that "Pope John Paul might have picked his nose, but doesn't want all the church to know about it". From that day on I never trusted ANYONE with anything to my license and still don't, never will either. Ok that's all my ramblings for tonight gotta go to work now. Y'all be good and have a great night.
  13. by   Donrn
    Let's not forget the Fentanyl patches. This is why you date and intial and have to dispose of as a narcotic with two nurses signing the disposal. Staff are taking off the patches and sucking out the rest of the drug. remember this is time released and still has quite abit of drug left over. To an addict it doesn't matter if it's been on a persons body, clean, dirty or otherwise.... Talk about going to extremes. If you don't date they can take the new patch and leave the old and date the old to cover tracks. Who suffers? Not the staff !!! Also if a Nurse is discovered stealing narcotics as long as they admit they have a problem the Office of Professions has a specific Drug rehab. program that they have to follow to allow them to rejoin the work force. So after multiple drug screenings and counseling, not to mention being displayed on the OP web site as committing this error they can choose to start applying for jobs again in 1-2 years. It is a way to assist our fellow co-workers back into the already shortened work force. Have a great day!!!!