Substance Abuse and Mental Illness Among Nurses


The practice of substance consumption amongst nursing professionals, especially the nurses, is a critical challenge that continues to surround the nursing career. Additionally, the habit results in physical disorders that adversely affect the effective and safe healthcare delivery to patients. The widespread abuse of drugs has provoked numerous healthcare facilities to establish and execute rigorous policies for substance screening for all nursing specialists (Babor et al. 110). This is essential in safeguarding the sick from the nurses with drug abuse maladies. Consequently, the administrations in the healthcare sector must look into all the sophisticated concerns related to the use of the substance by the nurses.

Substance Misuse and Disorders among Nurses

Misuse of drugs by nurses is a challenge that poses a threat to the provision of excellent services and professional ethics. If neglected, it may result in adverse consequences amongst healthcare clients. Numerous specialists are victims of substance abuse that greatly affect their practicing capability. It is argued that about two to three percent of nurses suffer from drug addiction (Strobbe and Crowley 104). The ANA (American Nurses Association) estimates that about forty thousand nurses in the US are alcohol addicts, with six to seven percent experiencing alcohol-related disorders (Strobbe and Crowley 105). Consequently, victims of drug abuse in the nursing profession ought to be recognized early enough before inflicting harm to patients or themselves.

Several studies have been undertaken to ascertain the prevalence and the contributing risk aspects for substance use. Some subclasses of nurses are more vulnerable to substance abuse due to factors such as insufficient preparation for the challenging nature of the scope and exposure to dying and demises (Strobbe and Crowley 105). Others arise due to inadequate knowledge of drug hazards, alcohol, addictions, and stresses. However, the specialties may vary in personal taste influencers, controlled drug availability, and workplace demands.

In the nursing occupation, tobacco is one of the drugs that has been researched widely. Research ascertains that intensive care, medical and psychiatric nurses exhibit higher smoking rates than pediatric and community health nurses (Strobbe and Crowley 106). There are also specialty distinctions where feminine psychiatric nurses are said to drink more than surgical and medical nurses (Strobbe and Crowley 106). Nurses working in intensive care workplaces are said to abuse prescription-type drugs more than those in non-intensive care settings.

Mitigating Substance Mishandling among Nurses

Younger nurses are more vulnerable to abuse of substance, especially where their peers are victims. Consequently, reducing the possibility of drug abuse amongst these specialists calls for stringent measures. The fundamental emphasis ought to commence right from the time of training the nursing trainees. They should get enlightened on the symptoms and dangers of abusing drugs. The employers can also play a key role in addressing the issue by conducting a thorough contextual check for all fresh nurses during the preliminary hiring process (Stanhope and Lancaster 822). Additionally, they ought to ensure that every personnel is well-versed with the process of identifying the victims of the practice and the laid out intervention guidelines. The effective treatment process should be well outlined to adequately address the complexities of the disorders, in addition to the social impacts on family, relatives, friends, and clients.


The nursing career is a demanding occupation that often results in psychological and physical challenges amongst the professionals. Moreover, nurses work in a workplace where drugs are easily accessible. Consequently, the nurses are faced with the augmented risk of abusing the drugs, thus calls for vigilance and coworkers to remain empathetic. However, training all stakeholders in the healthcare field and nurses on substance reliance, recognition, and diagnosis are fundamental for regulating the likelihood of drug misuse amongst nurses and coworkers.

Works Cited

Babor, Thomas F. et al. “Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment: Implications of SAMHSA’s SBIRT Initiative for Substance Abuse Policy and Practice”. Addiction, vol. 112, 2017, pp. 110-117.

Stanhope, Marcia, and Jeanette Lancaster. Public Health Nursing E-book: Population-Centered Health Care in the Community. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2019.

Strobbe, Stephen, and Melanie Crowley. “Substance Use Among Nurses and Nursing Students”. Journal of Addictions Nursing, vol. 28, no. 2, 2017, pp. 104-106.

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PsychologyWriting. "Substance Abuse and Mental Illness Among Nurses." September 6, 2022.