102: The Chemically Dependent Nurse

© 2011, 1995

This three-part series contains vital information for all healthcare providers on the problems associated with drug and alcohol addiction in the workplace.  Using both hospital-based scenarios and testimony from nurses, the programs focus on the causes of addiction, attitudes and beliefs which can foster chemical dependence, and ways in which the focus on caring can lead coworkers to enable a colleague in their addiction.  Behaviors indicating chemical dependence are described and depicted, as well as methods used by the drug dependent nurse to acquire medications in the workplace. The series discusses the frequency of chemical dependency among nurses and nursing students, and illustrates appropriate methods of intervention.  The discussion also addresses the legal and ethical implications of both chemical dependency among healthcare workers and failure on the part of instructors, supervisors or colleagues to intervene.

Schools:  First year nursing students

Healthcare Facilities:  Healthcare staff orientation/annual updates

Individual program learning objectives



To preview the programs listed below, click on the clips in the right column and using your mouse select the controls.

These previews are the property of EMD and are not intended for instructional use.

102.The Nurse's Story (22 min.)

1. Compare and contrast drug addiction between male and female nurses.
2. Give three characteristics commonly found in addicted nurses.
3. Name four mythical beliefs common in addicted nurses.
4. Discuss the role of physical and psychic pain in the development of addiction.
5. Describe ways in which stress can be a factor in addiction.


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102.2 Identification and Response (29 min.)

1. List changes in behavior that may indicate a substance abuse problem.
2. Discuss the obligation of an instructor or coworker who recognizes that a student or colleague is chemically dependent. 3. Describe methods that may be used by an impaired nurse to acquire drugs in the workplace.
4. Name the four primary boundaries of the workplace.
5. Define “drug diversion.”
6. Explain how enabling hurts the addicted nurse and the function of the nursing team.
7. Describe an effective intervention with an addicted employee.

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102.3 Nurse to Nurse: From Addiction to Recovery (20 min.)

1. Give at least three examples of why a nurse might abuse drugs or alcohol.
2. Discuss how substance tolerance affects the addicted individual’s drug behavior.
3. Explain how knowledge of the benefits of medications can become part of the addiction process.
4. Describe the role of a sense of entitlement in becoming chemically dependent.

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