Substance Use Disorder : A Complex Epidemic

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Substance Use Disorder in Nursing: A Complex Epidemic
He is the best nurse on the floor. Everyone admires him – patients, fellow nurses, doctors, administration. He works extra shifts in the emergency department, sometimes as often as six shifts per week despite chronic back pain. What about the seasoned staff nurse? You notice a change in her. She is moody, appears dazed, and is making mistakes frequently. She is late and unkempt, and is not as social as she once was. While one may be quick to assume substance use from the second nurse, in reality, the first nurse is just as likely to be working while impaired. Substance use disorders can – and do – have a very serious impact on the nursing community. Determining, labeling, and reporting a substance use problem is not always easy. This is why, when entering the nursing workforce, it is important to have a working knowledge and understanding of substance use. This includes familiarity with risk factors and signs of substance use, as well as knowing how to seek help for oneself or a colleague. With an awareness of the implications of substance use on nursing, new nurses may be better equipped to take action against this ever-present occupational hazard (NCSBN, 2011).
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Definitions and Statistics
Substance use disorder among nurses is a pervasive and complex issue that continues to plague health care settings across the United States. The term “substance use
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