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Support not punishment is the key to tackling substance abuse and addiction among nurses
Date:1/26/2011

As many as ten to 20 per cent of nurses and nursing students may have substance abuse and addiction problems, but the key to tackling this difficult issue - and protecting public safety - is support and treatment, not punishment. That is the key message in a paper in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Researchers have recommended six key points that could be built into alternative-to-dismissal (ATD) strategies after reviewing the latest research and professional guidance from countries such as the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

They believe that ATD programmes provide greater patient safety, as they enable managers to remove nurses from the work environment quickly, unlike traditional disciplinary procedures that can take months, if not years. ATD programmes also provide non-judgemental support and treatment that encourages nurses to seek help and improve their chances of staying in the profession.

"Addiction among nurses has been recognised by professionals in the field for over a hundred years" says lead author Dr Todd Monroe from the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Tennessee, USA. "While research consistently reports incidence rates of 10 to 15 per cent, some studies suggest that this could be as high as 20 per cent.

"Doctors and nurses are only human and face the same problems as everyone else, which can include chemical dependency. The fact that they work in a highly stressful environment with easy access to powerful drugs can expose them to an increased risk of substance misuse and abuse. They are expected to show compassion when caring for patients who are alcohol and/or drug dependent and they should extend the same compassion to colleagues struggling with chemical dependency, which is an illness."

Research suggests that ATD programmes help many nurses recover from addiction, reduce the chance of dismissal and return to work under strict monitoring gui
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Contact: Annette Whibley
wizard.media@virgin.net
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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