Drug and Alcohol Rehab for Nurses Near You

2 min read · 6 sections
Substance abuse and addiction can affect anyone, including nurses, physicians, and other healthcare providers. Unfortunately, substance use disorders are sometimes still stigmatized in the healthcare world, making nurses hesitant to reach out for help or admit they have a problem with substance abuse.1
What you will learn:
Inform you of the prevalence of substance use disorders among nurses.
Causes and risk factors of substance abuse among nurses.
The consequences nurses may face because of their addiction.
Information about the warning signs to look for and where to find treatment if you or someone you know is a nurse struggling with substance use.

Statistics & Facts on Substance Abuse in Nurses

  • The rate of nurses’ substance use is normative with the general population estimates of substance use; that is, between 6% and 8%.2
  • 18% of nurses showed signs of substance abuse problems, while one-third of this population (6.6% of the entire population) qualified for having a full-blown substance use disorder.2
  • Substance abuse is still stigmatized in the field of nursing. Many nurses who recover from substance abuse issues tend to feel stressed about re-entering the healthcare field because of the restrictions placed on them upon reentry (more restrictive schedules, drug testing, monitoring, and required attendance at support meetings, like AA).1
  • Many nurses report using substances to cope with stressors, or watching peers cope with stress by using substances.1
  • Illicit and prescription drug use are most common in home health and hospice nurses and nurses who work in nursing homes.2

Signs of Unhealthy Substance Use in Nurses

Some warning signs of substance misuse are universal, such as tension or conflict within family relationships and changes in work habits like tardiness and absence.3 However, there are also warning signs of substance abuse more specific to healthcare workers, such as nurses, that may include: conflicts with patients or patient’s families, charting errors or omissions, dramatic mood swings, and social and professional isolation.3 Impaired job performance is a clear warning sign of substance abuse in healthcare professionals, but symptoms of impairment are often not as easily apparent as being in a daze or increased sleepiness.1

Risk Factors for Addiction in Nurses

Some risk factors for developing addiction may apply to anyone, including a family history of substance abuse and experiencing past emotional or physical trauma.3 Stress, either at work or at home, can also be a contributing factor of substance use, but nurses in particular often cite job stress as a major factor in choosing to use alcohol or drugs.3

Workplace stress may be caused or worsened by:3

  • Staffing shortages.
  • Excessive workloads.
  • Rotating shifts.
  • Working overtime.
  • Covering multiple units.

Nurses who work in the intensive care unit or emergency departments may have other unique risk factors, such as the increased frequency of dealing with death, an unpredictable work pace, and stress and insecurity resulting from heavy work demands, some of which may exceed their scope of practice.3

Nurses who work in the intensive care unit or emergency departments may have other unique risk factors, such as the increased frequency of dealing with death, an unpredictable work pace, and stress and insecurity resulting from heavy work demands, some of which may exceed their scope of practice.

Consequences of Addiction in Nurses

Substance abuse tends to have a ripple effect, affecting not only the person struggling with addiction but also those around them.  Incorrect charting, forgotten orders, decreased quality of care, and workplace accidents can have devastating consequences for patients.3 However, a fear of punishment or termination may inhibit nurses from asking for help and coworkers from reporting a colleague they suspect of substance abuse.4

In addition to the conflicts between coworkers and family members that can arise when any employed person has a substance use disorder, nurses can potentially be at risk of having  their license temporarily suspended if they are found to be impaired on the job, but this depends on their workplace’s location.3

Substance Abuse Treatment for Nurses

Early identification and treatment are the goals of intervention for nurses with substance use disorders.3

Rehab can offer a wide range of treatment options, and some are even specific to licensed medical professionals, such as AAC’s Greenhouse Treatment Center, River Oaks Treatment Center, and Recover First Treatment Center. American Addiction Centers’ licensed medical professional track is designed to treat individuals suffering from substance use disorders. We offer therapeutic groups and individual therapy sessions tailored specifically towards medical professionals, like nurses.

Greenhouse, River Oaks, and Recovery First, provides a full spectrum of addiction treatment options:

In California and many other states, there are also various voluntary intervention programs that are confidential and specifically for RNs with substance use and mental health disorders. You can find one of these programs by visiting .

Data from state monitoring programs show that generally half (48%) of nurses who attempt recovery succeed, and some states show success rates as high as 90%.2 In large part due to monitoring and rehabilitation, an estimated 250,000 nurses have returned to work after recovery from substance use disorders in the past 30 years.2

You can overcome addiction, but it takes time, effort, and the support of multiple treatment providers and interventions. Greenhouse Treatment Center can provide the necessary tools and knowledge to help healthcare providers overcome substance use disorders. Call American Addiction Centers or visit our treatment centers hub for more information about our programs.

If you or someone you know is a healthcare provider struggling with a substance use disorder, please reach out for help today—not only for their own health and safety, but for the safety of the public as well.

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