Substance Use Among Nurses and Nursing Students: A Joint Position Statement of the Emergency Nurses Association and the International Nurses Society on Addictions

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Abstract

Alcohol and other substance use by nurses potentially places patients, the public, and nurses themselves at risk for serious injury or death. Nursing students are also at risk for problems related to substance use. When viewed and treated as a chronic medical illness, treatment outcomes for substance use disorders are comparable with those of other diseases and can result in lasting benefits. Professional monitoring programs that employ an alternative-to-discipline approach have been shown to be effective in the treatment of health professionals with substance use disorders and are considered a standard for recovery, with high rates of completion and return to practice. It is the position of the Emergency Nurses Association and the International Nurses Society on Addictions that 1. health care facilities provide education to nurses and other employees regarding alcohol and other drug use and establish policies, procedures, and practices to promote safe, supportive, drug-free workplaces; 2. health care facilities and schools of nursing adopt alternative-to-discipline approaches to treating nurses and nursing students with substance use disorders, with stated goals of retention, rehabilitation, and reentry into safe, professional practice; 3. drug diversion, in the context of personal use, is viewed primarily as a symptom of a serious and treatable disease and not exclusively as a crime; and 4. nurses and nursing students are aware of the risks associated with substance use, impaired practice, and drug diversion and have the responsibility and means to report suspected or actual concerns.

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