3. An Environment Where Workplace Bullying Is Rife
Nursing is a competitive profession with a clear hierarchy, and there can be a culture of bullying in some workplaces. When people feel like they struggle to relate to their colleagues, they can get isolated and turn to substances to cope. What’s more, using drugs or alcohol can help someone who’s experiencing bullying forget about their troubles after a long day.
4. Need for Pain Relief Due to Nursing Staff’s Long Shifts
Nurses often work 10- to 12-hour shifts, which are spent always on the go with few breaks and constant pressure to perform. Often, they lift and move patients, which can make them more prone to back problems. Some professionals might turn to pain meds to relieve pain so they can get through their shifts.
5. Health Care Professionals Experience More Stress Compared to Other Professions
As mentioned previously, there’s a unique type of stress associated with nurses. They’re frequently exposed to sickness and death and play a key role in keeping people alive and healthy. Chronic stress is one of the biggest risk factors for substance abuse disorders, putting nurses at a higher risk.
6. Compassion Fatigue
Compassion fatigue is a phenomenon experienced by people who spend a lot of their time caring for others. As a nurse, most of your time is spent looking after people, and you’re unlikely to experience the same amount of love and care that you give. If you don’t practice self-care or you’re lonely in your home life, you might be at an increased risk of addiction.
7. Knowledge of Medications
Nurses know more about medication than most people, and they get to see the relief it brings their patients. This constant exposure could make it more tempting to turn to substances because you understand their mechanisms and how they could help you feel better.
8. Lack of Knowledge About Substance Use Disorders
Just because nurses understand how medication works, it doesn’t mean they’re experts on SUDs. Even medical professionals experience a disconnect when it comes to drug and alcohol use and addiction. It’s normal to believe it can’t happen to you or your problem isn’t as bad as someone with an actual SUD, but the truth is that addiction can happen to anyone.
9. Fatigue Caused by Professional Practice
Working 12-hour shifts on a regular basis can cause anyone to experience burnout. What’s more, nurses often have to work antisocial hours, including evenings, weekends and holidays, and might have to drop their plans at the last minute while on call. This could lead to temptation to find other ways to unwind quickly, such as using alcohol or drugs.
10. The Strain of the COVID-19 Pandemic
COVID-19 has led to an even higher incidence of burnout for nurses due to the increased strain on hospitals. What’s more, the stress of working in an environment where you’re constantly exposed to deadly pathogens could cause you to seek comfort and relief in substances.