The Chemically Impaired Nurse

The risky behavior of the chemically impaired nurse needs to be managed accordingly (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2002).
Identifying addiction in the working nurses and recognizing the impact of substance misuse and related activity in the nurses would not end there. The nurses have easy access to medications that they administer to the patients. Their knowledge allows them to know the function of the medications. Various factors such as workplace stress, life issues, and their psychological makeup may promote them to take recourse to chemicals, maybe initially just as a trial. Gradually, this becomes an addiction without much announcement, and the nurse starts to abuse the drugs under their disposal. Since a ready source of the chemical is available, it is extremely difficult to curb this unless the nurse is made to get away from the source. Appropriate mentoring and strict monitoring is essential to make that happen, detection and steps to get rid of chemical dependency. The other side of the picture is to support the chemically impaired nurse to recover from addiction (Impaired Nurse Resource Center).

Like any other profession, nurses may present with addiction even under the most routine circumstances. Unless the right person asks the right question, such nurses may go undetected and untreated. The nurse manager who has a role to play the chemically impaired nurse working under her must remember that substance use disorders do not appear in isolation, but often result from embedded patterns of addictive behavior from early family life. Significant numbers of professionals including nurses experience substance abuse problems that affect their ability to practice. Some do seek recovery, but many continue to practice undetected. The accurate estimate of the problem in terms of statistics is very difficult to obtain, and the American Nurses Association estimates that 6% to 8% of the nurses may have a drug or alcohol problem.