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Substance Use Disorder in Nursing

Substance Use Disorder encompasses a pattern of behaviors that range from misuse to dependency or addiction, whether it is alcohol, legal drugs or illegal drugs. Substance Use Disorder can affect anyone regardless of age, occupation, economic circumstances, ethnic background or gender. It is a progressive and chronic disease, but also one that can be successfully treated.

Nurses who abuse substances pose a unique challenge to the nursing profession. The behavior that results from this disease has far-reaching and negative effects, not only on the nurses themselves, but also upon the patients who depend on the nurse for safe, competent care. Substance Use Disorder among health care providers also creates significant legal and ethical responsibilities for colleagues who work with these individuals.

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Prior to the 1980’s, nurses were often fired by employers and/or disciplined by the board of nursing when evidence of substance use became apparent. Non-disciplinary programs, offering an alternative to traditional discipline, are now used by a growing number of state boards of nursing. These programs provide the nurse with rapid involvement in a rehabilitation or treatment program and remove the nurse from providing care until safety to practice can be established and confirmed.

When treatment for nurses is individually tailored to meet their needs and an appropriate supportive monitoring system is in place, then nurses can recover and return to practice safely. An extensive body of scientific evidence demonstrates that approaching substance use disorders as treatable illness is extremely effective for the individual using substances, as well as for society.

Related Brochures

Substance Use Disorder Courses

NCSBN Learning Extension - E-Learning for the Nursing Community

NCSBN Learning Extension Substance Use Disorder Courses

These self-paced continuing education courses from Learning Extension are designed for nurses and nurse managers. Register at learningext.com.

Understanding Substance Use Disorder in Nursing

4.0 contact hours | $30
This self-paced course will help nurses acquire the knowledge to recognize and report a colleague with SUD, while compassionately getting them the help they need and protecting the public.

Nurse Manager Guidelines for Substance Use Disorder

3.0 contact hours | $30
This self-paced course for nurse managers will take knowledge to the next level to proactively prevent, detect and intervene when a nurse is suspected of suffering from SUD.

Substance Use Disorder Articles

Journal of Nursing Reglation Cover Image

Related Journal of Nursing Regulation Articles

Substance User Disorder in Nursing Cover Image

Substance Use Disorder in Nursing: Resource Manual and Guidelines

The Substance Use Disorder in Nursing Resource Manual and Guidelines provides practical and evidence-based guidelines for evaluating, treating, and managing nurses with a substance use disorder.

Features include:

  • Information on prevention, detection and intervention
  • Essential theoretical and practical guidelines
  • Current research and knowledge synthesized from the field
  • Material to enhance alternative to discipline programs (ATD)
  • Guidelines for regulatory bodies in the evaluation of ATD programs
  • Examples of model contracts, forms and reports

NCSBN Checklist & Program Audit for ATD

 The NCSBN Checklist and Program Audit for Alternative to Discipline or Monitoring Programs Tool

This checklist and program audit of Alternative to Discipline Program or Monitoring Program (ATD program) analyzes fourteen criteria to determine whether the ATD program is in alignment with NCSBN Guidelines for Alternative Programs and Discipline Monitoring Programs within Substance Use Disorder in Nursing. The checklist and audit will identify and inform, and then assist in the management and remediation of any deficiencies.

Tags: Continuing Education,Drug abuse,Journal of nursing regulation,Practice,Substance Use Disorder,NCSBN