SUBSTANCE ABUSE IN NURSES
Nursing is a career which involves the daily routine of meeting people who are facing vulnerable and resilient moments in their lives. They face personal challenges in their lives just like patients. The frustration and pressure on nurses is the resultant cause of them finding solace in substance abuse. Healths professionals particularly nurse have the major problem of drug and substance abuse (Daniels, 2011). 10 to 15 percent of certified nurses in the United States are addicted to drugs and chemically reliant. They are also unreliable in the discharge of their duties.
Addiction is the application of mood varying drug, distinguished by coercion, control failure and persistent use despite harmful consequences. Substance abuse is the abuse of illicit drugs, alcohol and other drugs and administered in health facilities.
Patients are usually at risk when being served by nurses under the influence of drugs. Substance abuse results to death if proper medication is not administered on time. It is reported that most nurses who engage in drug and substance abuse have a short lived career in the health sector. Most of them become impaired to the extent that they cannot discharge their duties effectively.
Nurse view other nurses who abuse drugs with contempt and isolation. They view them as people who are bad influence to the other nurses hence the cause of isolation. Nurse who abuse drugs are afraid of being noticed hence they segregate themselves from others.
Nurses have the highest probability of becoming chemically dependent due to the availability of the drug at ease. Mostly, addiction comes about due to persistent use and constant supply. Nurses who abuse these drugs have a high probability of using illegal substances and abusing alcohol (Sullivan, 2010). Nurses have good specialization and training in pharmacology. This may cause erroneous believe that they are in control of these drugs.
Drug addiction and substance abuse has been a major problem to nurses and other health professionals for many years. Opiates are the oldest recognized drugs that are abused. Opium was grown in the Middle East approximately 3000 years before Christ’s birth. Between 1493 and 1541, laudanum was developed by a Swiss physician Hilippus Percelsus (Fitzpatrick, 2012). The medicine was used as a pain killer. 45 percent of dissolved alcohol and 296 milligrams of opium are the contents found in laudanum.
Health professional experimented with the drugs they used. Newly innovated medicine was tested on the health professional to gauge their effectiveness. In 1842, Robert Glover discovered chloroform and the anesthetic effect it has. Unfortunately, he died after accidentally taking an excess overdose of chloroform at the age of forty three. Robert was reported to be heavily addicted to chloroform. Horace Wells, a dentist discovered the likelihood of nitrous oxide as an anesthesia. The dentist died due to the overdose use of chloroform. Dr. William Halstead of the United States of America used cocaine to handle the high demand of his career as a surgeon. Halstead was also captivated to narcotics. In 1910, the top professionals listed as drug addicts were pharmacists, housewives, physicians, prostitutes, nurses and physicians (Naegle, 2009).
Substance abuse among is a societal concern. Chemical dependency has remained a major issue for a long time. Nurses need to be well educated on the issue of chemical dependence surrounding their work environment. The current curriculum need to be reoriented to lay more emphasis to anesthesia nurses on effects of substance abuse and ways of identifying colleagues with drug addiction (Lundy and Janes, 2009). They should also be taught how to avoid the temptation of substance abuse.
Conflicts exist on the time frame on which nurses are likely to develop dependency and addiction on substances. Some research indicates that addiction develops in the course of education progress while others argue that it begins at the start of the career. A clear stand cannot be made on whether substance abuse and addiction occurs late or early in the career.
Young nurses are more likely to be impaired than older nurses in the medical professional. Males with six to ten years of experience are likely to be affected with the problem of substance abuse. There Literature niche in explaining substance abuse and addiction among nurses in anesthetic sector. Most literature only gives points and explanations to early development and addiction of substances. There is need for further research on the topic.
Exploration and analysis
Substance abuse among nurses remains a Contemporary issue in the health care sector (Daly, Speedy and Jackson, 2009). Nurses do not have the adequate information and education regarding substance abuse. The issue of substance abuse has compromised the credibility of nurse’s ability to act responsible in the course of their duties.
The procedure for reporting nurse with the problem of substance abuse is stipulated in the policy document of a particular health facility. Most health facilities provide a help line and number that other nurses can report. Others have a help center where nurses with substance abuse problem and other work related problems can be assisted from. Nurses can also go directly to the manager and report their colleagues with the problem of substance abuse.
Nurses with the problem of substance abuse and addiction are taken to rehabilitation centers within the hospital. Proper medical attention is provided to them and they are subjected to activities that help them to withdraw from substance abuse. Health facilities have employee assistance programs where workers are given special treatment.
Substance abuse among nurses is a complex biopsychosocial problem that does not have simple remedies for the problem (Lowinson, 2012). Nurses are important professional in the health care system hence all measure need to undertaken to protect them from the issue. However, it becomes difficult to protect them from the difficult and demand work environments that force them to result to substance abuse. The issues thus make the whole topic complex to handle. Some nurses are shy from reporting their problem of addiction due to the disciplinary actions that could be undertaken among them. Some hospitals have developed social programs for their staff and families that have played an important role in reducing substance abuse among nurses.
The process of reinstating nurses faced with the problem of substance abuse back to their work depends on their fitness. The fitness of a nurse is determined by a designated independent person who looks for symptoms and signs of impaired performance. If there is absence of symptoms from the observation conducted they are reinstated in good faith.
Implication for the study
Reports show that substance abuse mainly occurs in groups that are take drugs that have therapeutic use, role strain and easy access to the drugs (Grace, 2009). Ready availability of anesthesia has a perfect correlation with the addiction and dependency of substances. As nurses, working in a hospital has an open and easy access to anesthetics drugs the probability of addiction is high. Another factor that may lead to addiction is how hospital work and patients have intense pressure on nurses. This makes them to find solace in drug use.
Analysis has shown Fatigue, work demands, job change and self medication also leads to substance addiction (Masters, 2008). I have learned that it is important for nurses to learn how to balance their work to cope up with the rise in demands from their work. Exercise and leisure are some of the factors that should be keyed in a nurses’ life. This is critical in reducing stress and tension that come with hard work. Nurses’ board should choose people of high integrity and those that can work under extreme pressurized work conditions.
Recommendation and conclusion
Hospitals should develop regular checkups among reinstated nurses to identify those that are having turned back to substance abuse. Those nurses and health experts with the problem of substance abuse should be put under medical and rehabilitation programmes and they should be treated like patients. If nurses develop symptoms linked to substance abuse tests should be conducted to ascertain the issue.
The medical school curriculum should be reviewed to educate and provide more insights and information regarding drugs and substance abuse their implication and measures to avoid the irresponsible behavior.
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