Addiction in the Nursing Field: When You Need to Get Help

Addiction in the Nursing Field: When You Need to Get Help

The nursing profession is taxing and usually requires working long hours, dealing with difficult situations, and working under pressure. This can be especially true now during the pandemic, as nurses are overworked and hospitals are understaffed. Different people cope with such issues differently and unfortunately some turn to drug abuse. As a result, some nurses suffer from alcohol and other drugs abuse. The problem is that they may carry on with their usual life taking care of patients even with drug abuse. This may go unnoticed for a long period of time and can lead to dangerous situations for them and their patients.  

Why is addiction in the nursing field on the rise? With a lack of coping mechanisms to deal with the stresses of our pandemic, it is not a surprise. Take a moment to assess if you may be developing an addiction. When should you seek help? How can you know if a friend or coworker is affected?  

The Start of Substance Abuse 

Like with all addicts, substance abuse among nurses begins with a nurse taking the substance for fun or to cope with stress. Alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs are taken as a way of relaxing. Before they know it, they can no longer function without the drug of choice. They feel the urge to take more and more of it with each passing day. 

What makes nurses prone to substance abuse? They experience both emotional and physical stress as they take care of patients all day. The long hours of work leave them with lots of fatigue to deal with. They often suffer from insomnia and anxiety. Alcohol and other drugs seem to numb these issues, which encourages their use. Nurses have been known to abuse prescription medications as they have greater access to them. Painkillers and narcotics are common addictive drugs. The initial use of the medication is usually for an ailment or symptoms.  

Over time, the nurse gets used to feeling caused by the effects of the drug and they keep using it. Other nurses like anesthetists misuse drugs with the aim of feeling the same effects these drugs have on patients. Opioids and sedatives are commonly abused for this reason. With prescription medicine being easily accessible, nurses can easily buy or steal whatever they want. 

Signs of Addiction 

Nurses are extremely knowledgeable and they can hide their addictions very well. Unlike other people, they may be able to balance work, family, and addictions well for a long time. On the other hand, catching addictions early is important for quick recovery. You need to be keen about your actions and those of your colleagues so as to know when to seek help. 

Frequent bathroom trips, unkempt appearance, weight loss, and fatigue are some physical signs that may indicate addiction. Stock count errors at all times a particular nurse is on duty may mean that they are misusing drugs. Patients who do not seem to gain expected pain relief from prescribed medication may mean that the nurse did not give adequate medication. The rest may have ended up in the nurse’s body. If such circumstances keep repeating themselves, investigations need to be carried out thoroughly. 

Emotional outbursts such as extreme anger or laughter outbursts are signs of substance abuse. Insomnia and hyperactivity may also be noted depending on the drug being abused. Truancy and lateness may also indicate alcohol and other forms of drug abuse. Also, watch out for the pungent smell of alcohol on colleagues. 

At a personal level, nurses who take prescription medicine for longer than prescribed should get help. If you note that you are often depending on a substance, you need to get help. 

Addiction Treatment for Nurses 

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing has stipulated what should happen in cases of suspected drug abuse among nurses . An investigation needs to be carried out and the truth exposed. The addicted staff should be assisted to get the help they need and later reintegrate back to work, though under strict watch.  

But, look before you leap to an SBN. Check with someone you trust first, as different state boards have different policies. One place to inquire is at the Minneapolis Nurses Peer Support Network. Even if you don’t live in Minnesota, members of the NPSN want to help fellow nurses and they respect your confidentiality. They KNOW what you’re going through and, well؅—“Nurses Peer Support Network” says it all. See their video below. https://youtu.be/sp2JNjWZd3E 

Why should you get treated for drug addictions? It is a disease that can only be resolved through proper treatment. You are not your normal self when you use drugs. You may find yourself more irritable and treating colleagues and family members wrongly. You may also underperform at work and cause medical errors that can have dire consequences. 

Drug rehabilitation programs can help nurses get their lives back on track. By enrolling for one, your drug levels are monitored and the body detoxifies slowly. You will also learn how to avoid triggers, return to work and avoid future relapses. There are many rehabs in Southern California or near where you live. Just enroll at one that allows you to have a customized treatment plan and start the road to recovery. 


Addiction in the nursing field is a real concern. Its effects are dire with the extremes being death dues to negligence at work. The nurse will also suffer at a personal level and so will their families. Suspected addiction cases among nurses should be treated as soon as possible. 


5 Reasons Nurses Become Nurse-Entrepreneurs

5 Reasons Nurses Become Nurse-Entrepreneurs

While the path to entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, there are plenty of opportunities for nurses with an interest in taking this route. There are many reasons nurses today are deciding to become entrepreneurs: taking a break from a stressful environment, wanting to retire but stay busy, or making a side income. From working as a consultant for medical malpractice law firms to freelancing your services to clinics and private practices, you can find success as a self-employed nurse. If you’re not sure that this is the path for you, consider the benefits of striking out as a nursing entrepreneur.

Be the Boss of Your Own Schedule

A nurse entrepreneur doesn’t have to work the typical eight or 12-hour shifts that traditional nurses work. In fact, you can choose how much or how little you work each week. Depending on the type of opportunities you seek as a freelancing nurse, you can even choose the times of day that you will work. You’ll have greater freedom in setting up your work schedule, and you may only be limited by the amount of income you need to earn. This can help you keep time free for important events and appointments. If your children are engaged in sports, you can set up your schedule to ensure you can make it to all of their games. The schedule you choose is up to you.

Wider Opportunities for Career Development

You’ll have a greater chance for exploring opportunities that interest you professionally and personally. Perhaps clinical work has always interested you but you haven’t found any job openings in that area of nursing. Freelancing offers you the opportunity to work in a clinical setting as a freelance nurse. If you prefer providing hospice care, you can work exclusively in that area. You can choose an area of interest, or you can choose jobs based on the level of patient interaction you desire. The opportunities you choose will help you live a more rewarding life, leaving you feeling fulfilled on a personal level.

Nurses’ Expertise and Ideas are Valued in the Business Arena

There are financial incentives to working as an entrepreneur in the nursing field, but there are more practical advantages as well. Many nurses feel stifled in their day-to-day careers. Policies or work environments often prohibit nurses from expressing themselves or sharing their ideas. It’s also discouraged for nurses to question doctors in many situations. However, freelancing as a nurse can open you up to opportunities in which your experience and insight will be sought. You can work as an expert witness, consultant, or in other positions in which your clients will value your thoughts. There are many entrepreneurial opportunities in which clients will pay your fee specifically to take advantage of your experience and ideas.

Successful Nurse-Entrepreneurs Can Make Serious Bank

Entrepreneurship offers you the chance to use and hone your business skills. Rather than earning a predetermined salary, you’ll have the ability to set your own rates of pay. You may decide to establish one set hourly rate, or you might charge a different rate for a variety of nursing services. This will be similar to running any type of business in terms of analyzing competitors in your field and marketing your services to those needing a nursing freelancer. The degree of success you achieve will depend on how well you can hone your business acumen. As long as you continue to learn and grow as an entrepreneur, you will achieve greater success over time.

Reduce Your Chances of Becoming a Burnout Statistic

While staying in one position or working at one hospital throughout your career can provide stability, it also increases the likelihood of experiencing career burnout. This is a condition that produces feelings of fatigue, depression, and apathy. When you freelance as a nurse, you’ll significantly decrease the risks of burnout by exposing yourself to a variety of new situations throughout your career. This can involve pursuing different areas of nursing to spice up your work-related experiences, or you might become a traveling nurse to experience different cultures from around the world. You can experience a new opportunity as frequently as you like, or choose a specific area of work that you find especially interesting.

The advantage of seeking out entrepreneur opportunities as a nurse is that you can still keep your full-time job. Look for opportunities that you can pursue part-time or on your days off. As you gain a better understanding of what you can do as a freelancer or another type of entrepreneur, you will eventually reach a point at which you’ll feel comfortable quitting your full-time job.


Getting Your Head Together: 5 Mental Health Treatment Options for Frontline Nurses

Getting Your Head Together: 5 Mental Health Treatment Options for Frontline Nurses

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that mental illness costs the United States over $300 billion annually, with one in five adults experiencing some sort of mental health condition each year. As a growing number of frontline workers report experiencing mental health issues ranging from anxiety and stress to PTSD and MDD, organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) have launched guides that specifically target healthcare professionals. While the pending Lorna Breen Act offers hope in its aims to make help more readily available for physicians and nurses, you should NOT wait.

When left untreated, mental health issues can exacerbate into life-threatening illnesses. One of these five tested, accessible, treatment options could help you feel better and function more effectively:

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that is focused on changing behavior and thought patterns in order to relieve symptoms and problems. CBT can be used to treat a wide range of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and certain addictions. During CBT, a professional counselor or therapist will work with you to create specific goals based on your situation. These goals can focus on decreasing symptoms or changing behaviors that may be contributing to symptoms such as anxiety or depression. The counselor will also work with you on discovering personal vulnerabilities and stressors that may contribute to your symptoms.

2. Intensive Outpatient Programs

Intensive outpatient programs can be a great option for those who want to quit drinking or taking drugs but don’t need intensive treatment. In an iop program, patients come to a rehab facility several times per week, where they participate in group and individual therapy sessions. These programs typically last from 1-4 months.

The advantage of an intensive outpatient program is that patients do not have to stay at a rehab facility during their recovery, allowing them to go to work or school while in treatment. Since these programs are less structured than inpatient options, they may not be as effective for some people with severe drug and alcohol abuse issues.

3. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Incorporating a variety of stress reduction techniques into your day can go a long way in keeping you healthy, happy, and prepared for life’s stressors. This is where mindfulness comes in. Mindfulness is gaining popularity as a stress-reduction technique as it works for almost anyone.

Research has also shown that MBSR training can improve sleep quality, enhance productivity and even improve symptoms of chronic illness like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. If you want to take advantage of mindfulness training but aren’t sure where to start, then consider taking an online class or hiring an instructor for one-on-one coaching.

4. Pharmacological Therapies

Pharmacological therapies are another option front-line workers can use to treat their mental health concerns. Work with your doctor to find the best pharmaceutical treatments for your lifestyle. While these therapies are an effective way to treat mental health, be wary of your reliance on them.

Antidepressants in particular can be habit-forming and in some cases may not even work for everyone that uses them. If you suffer from depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, be sure to speak with a doctor about all of your options. In many cases, pharmaceuticals should be the last resort. For example, depression can be treated by talk therapy alone. More advanced mental health disorders such as psychosis or schizophrenia will likely require a variety of therapies to bring symptoms under control over time.

5. Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Interpersonal psychotherapy, or IPT, is designed to help individuals adjust to stressful life situations. A therapy session may include discussions of emotional reactions, problem-solving techniques, and other cognitive exercises designed to make it easier for you to effectively manage your feelings. You’ll also learn how to better recognize signs of distress in yourself and others.

There are three main phases of IPT: crisis intervention, acute stabilization, and prevention. There are typically 10 one-hour sessions during each phase of IPT treatment. Oftentimes IPT is used as a form of treatment for PTSD symptoms after an emergency occurs on the scene or at home in the form of critical incident stress debriefing.

Everyone deserves mental health care, regardless of their financial situation or employment status. Front line workers should take these five ideas into consideration to care for their mental health.

  • If you have thoughts about suicide or you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). The ANA has also assembled some resources for nurses suffering from suicidal ideation here.