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.
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.
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
Nurse Manager Guidelines for Substance Use Disorder
3.0 contact hours | $30