The latest research shows that the number of people in the nursing profession who struggle with substance abuse could be as high as 10%-20%, while at the same time there is a shortage of qualified nurses and nursing students to fill the openings in this sector of the medical profession. According to the experts the key to addressing substance abuse in the nursing profession is to provide treatment and support to these individuals rather than applying punishment. This approach will help protect public safety while providing much needed treatment and services so that the individual can overcome their addiction.
The new research on substance abuse in the nursing profession was published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing. Vanderbilt University School of Nursing researcher and lead paper author Todd Monroe, Ph.D., explained “Addiction among nurses has been recognized by professionals in the field for over a hundred years. While research consistently reports incidence rates of 10 to 15 per cent, some studies suggest that this could be as high as 20 per cent.” Monroe continued by saying “The fact that they work in a highly stressful environment with easy access to powerful drugs can expose them to an increased risk of substance misuse and abuse. They are expected to show compassion when caring for patients who are alcohol and/or drug dependent and they should extend the same compassion to colleagues struggling with chemical dependency, which is an illness. ATD programs appear to be the best way to protect patients and retain nurses at a time when the profession is facing serious shortages of experienced professionals.”