Substance Abuse In Nursing Research

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The nurse manager today faces many challenges and must be innovative in approaching them to maintain a healthy work environment. Sullivan (2013) addressed how “one of the most challenging problems for managers is knowing what to do when employees fail to perform to expectations” (p. 258). There are a number of issues that could arise for the nurse manager but this paper will focus on dealing with substance abuse in the nursing profession. Statistics show that 1 in 7 Registered Nurses (RNs) are at risk for addiction and that RNs have a 50% higher rate of substance abuse than the general public (Epstein, et al., 2010). This paper will show the relevance of substance abuse in nursing while also providing ineffective and effective ways of dealing …show more content…
Substance abuse is not only increasing in the society but also in the nursing profession (Sullivan, 2013). Research done by Maher-Brisen (2007) concluded that nurses are especially vulnerable to addiction to prescription drugs because of work related stress and easy access. It was also found that nurses reported a higher rate of family history of alcoholism than any other health care group (Maher-Brisen, 2007). It is important the nurse manager plays a critical role in situations involving a nurse with a substance abuse disorder (NCSBN, 2014). This critical role involves preventing and detecting a substance abuse disorder so it is no longer detrimental to the nurse and more importantly, does not jeopardize patient care and safety (Sullivan, 2013). The nurse manager needs to provide early intervention and assistance to help employees recover from an addiction and recognize that “a non-punitive atmosphere of support may be a life-saving step for nurses and those in their care” (Monroe & Kenaga, 2010, p. 504). Not only can this situation affect the impaired nurse and patient care, but it can result in exposing the employing agency to greater liability (Sullivan, …show more content…
Every case needs to be individualized based on the severity of the substance abuse and how the nurse complies with the interventions. The recognition of a co-worker in need of treatment is an important first step in effectively dealing with substance abuse (Monroe & Kenaga, 2010). Some physical symptoms of alcohol or drug dependency include; shakiness, slurred speech, dilated or constricted pupils, runny nose, wearing long-sleeved clothing continuously, and an unsteady gait (Sullivan, 2013). Some workplace indications of drug abuse include incorrect narcotic counts, alternations of narcotic containers, high wastage of narcotics, and excessive patient reports that their pain medication was ineffective (Sullivan, 2013). Although these can all be concluded to be a substance abuse problem caution should be used if only one symptom is observed (Monroe & Kenaga, 2010). The information on the clinical signs of alcohol and drug dependency is important knowledge for the nurse manager and all nurses on the unit so reporting can be done effectively and intervention can be prompt. Epstein, et al. (2010) concluded that “ educating nurse managers and staff nurses about chemical dependency identification and treatment is crucial to limiting potential harm to these nurses and their coworkers” (p.

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