Substance Abuse and Nursing

Topics: Nursing, Drug addiction, Addiction Pages: 7 (2466 words) Published: April 12, 2012

A major health problem in the United States is substance abuse. Substance abuse is the misuse of, illegal drugs, alcohol, inhalants prescription drugs, and other substances that change how the mind and body work. Drugs that are most commonly abused are alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, opium alkaloids, and synthetic opioid. These drugs are either excessively used or not used for its intended purpose. Substance abuse transcends economic, racial, age and gender lines. (Monroe, Pearson, Kenaga 2008). The National institute of Drug Abuse states that roughly 10 percent of the U.S populations are drug abusers.

Individuals who engage in substance abuse not only affect their own lives but, have a major effect on and the lives of family of loved ones. Substance abuse contributes to accidents, crime, violence within the family, and lost productivity at work. Substance abuse also has effects on one’s health. Substance abuse can lead respiratory problems such emphysema, asthma. Neurologic problems such as memory loss, hallucinations, delusions, depression and brain damage. Heart problems include abnormal heartbeat, and heart attack. Gastrointestinal effects of drug abuse include nausea or vomiting, pain, and liver and kidney damage. It also has a damaging effect on unborn babies causing miscarriages, low birth weight, and behavioral issues (Lietz2010).

Since the 19th century when Americans first discovered wonder drugs such as morphine, heroin, and cocaine, our country has battled with the issue of drug abuse and addiction. During this time about five percent of the U.S population was addicted to some form of drug. There was no restriction or limitations on the purchase, sale or possession of drugs. Crack and morphine could be brought for any reason or ailment. During that time most people who were addicts were medical addicts. Most people didn’t get high for recreation purposes, but did so to relieve pain. During the civil war many soldiers became addicted to the morphine that they were given to relieve their pain and suffering. In 1914 the federal government passed the Harrison Act, this legislation making it illegal to obtain a narcotic drug without a prescription. Then in 1920 the act was amended to stop physicians that were giving prescriptions to addicts. The substance abuse in medical professions has been documented by the American Medical Association since 1970, American nurses Association since 1973, and American Nurses Association in 1984 (Tariman 2007). Impaired medical personnel have become an increasingly major issue in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 10% to 15% of all healthcare professionals will abuse some form of drug at some time during their career. (Oldenburg 2010).Substance abuse amoung medical proffesionals have been reported and studied by the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association since the early seventies (Tariman, 2007). Even though the rates of substance abuse parallel the general public, the statistics are alarming given that the public in trust these same professionals with their well-being and their lives every day. Healthcare professionals have higher rates of abuse with depressants and opiates. Certain medical specialties have higher rates of drug abuse.

A Gallup poll showed that nursing is considered to one of the most ethical professions over physicians and other licenced professionals. The hands on care, dependability, and consistentcy is why nursing is at the top of the list. Many nurses provide such good care for other individuals and forget to take time out for themselves. Although noble, this practice pose a big problem for many nurses (Schroeder, 2006). Addiction is the most common reason for impaired nursing. Impaired nursing continues to be a serious risk to the patients and to the nurses themselves “Impaired nursing practice is defined as a nurse...
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