The rates of addictions among medical staff in our society are becoming more and more noticed.
It has been estimated that 1 in 10 RNs are most likely to be addicted to something, and it is usually something that they can get a hold of while at work in a hospital.
The American Nurses Association has stated that the most common drugs that nurses are found to be addicted to are alcohol, amphetamines, opiates, sedatives, tranquilizers, and inhalants.
And it is not only the nurses who are addicted to substances. It is also becoming more and more of a known fact that the doctors themselves are also becoming addicted to substances, most notably prescription drugs, due to the fact that it can be so easily obtained.
According to Lisa Merlo, PhD, a researcher at the University of Florida's Center for Addiction Research and Education, doctors are 5 times more likely to abuse prescription medications than people who are a part of the general public.
The Stress of the Job
Most of these physicians are not seeking recreational thrills when it comes to their using. Merlo conducted a study of 55 physicians who were under observation by their respective state medical boards for suspected substance abuse.
Those who confessed to abusing prescription drugs, which was about 70% of those polled, claimed that they were not taking it in order to feel a high or have some kind of a good time. Rather they were taking these drugs in order to unwind from a physically and emotionally stressful job. The same can be said for the aforementioned RNs.
It can also be argued that doctors are more susceptible to prescription medication abuse due to their special proximity to the supply. They can, if persistent and motivated enough, find ways to get their own supply of whatever it is that they want and keep their addictions fed.
A Serious Issue
All this has been about the cause and the situation. The accessibility to drugs and the nature of their professions does not excuse an addiction on part of someone who is of a medical staff. These are trusted individuals, people who make decisions on a daily basis that can drastically affect the well being, or even the life, of someone else.
Seeing as the most commonly abused kinds of substances by medical staff are prescriptions, most typically painkillers, this leads to the situation wherein they have impaired judgement, and more than likely they are inebriated on the substances while being on the job.
It goes without saying that this is a bad situation- if there are life and death decisions to be made in an emergency room by a nurse or doctor, and their judgement and cognitive abilities are being bogged down by a drug, then this leads to a very bad situation.
These people are just like any other when it comes to being addicted to something. The only way to get off of an addiction is to seek outside help. Doing it by themselves is a bad idea and will most likely not work.
It may for a bit, maybe a week or a month, but the temptation to go at it again due to the close proximity to their addiction is typically too strong for someone who has not kind of help with their problem. It would be like a person who works in a bar is trying to quit drinking all by themselves, without the help of a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous or something like that.
The only way for a doctor or an RN to ensure that they are free of an addiction that is putting themselves and others at risk is to seek outside help for their problems. This is usually done by getting into a detoxification program and then a treatment facility.
Afterwards, getting into a recovery program like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is the best way to make sure that the addiction does not rear its ugly head again and take over their lives.