Most nurses go into their profession because they want to help people. However, nursing is an intensely stressful and demanding career. It can put strain on your relationships and lead to lasting physical injuries.
Nurses injured on the job or dealing with trauma may turn to narcotic pain relief. Unfortunately, addiction is an issue of particular concern for those who work in the medical field. Nurses addicted to narcotic pain relief could find themselves at risk of losing their license and their job in addition to any criminal consequences they face because of their addiction.
Addiction could lead to negligence on the job
Narcotic pain relief can affect your focus, memory, cognition and decision-making skills. Nurses need to be able to respond in an instant to medical emergencies that could affect their patients. If they take pain relief while working, that could affect their response time.
Nurses who can’t make it through their shift without medicating could endanger their patients because of their addiction, especially if they work alone or don’t tell co-workers about their medication habits.
Addiction could lead to the theft or misappropriation of medicine
Research has shown that nurses with easy access to narcotic pain relievers are more likely than others to take those pills for their own use. Even if an employer carefully monitors their stock of pain medication, a nurse could take the medication from a patient, depriving them of necessary pain relief.
Not only could criminal charges brought against a nurse lead to the loss of their nursing license, but so could allegations brought by patients or their families to the state licensing board. Recognizing the risk might be the first step toward protecting your nursing license when addiction threatens your career.