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Substance Abuse In Nursing – Why It happens

Why do some nurses have Substance Abuse problems?

People are often surprised to learn that substance abuse in nursing is fairly common. Especially when they’re in the field of taking care of others, sadly, it’s a fact. The American Nurses Association estimates that six to eight percent of nurses abuse drugs or alcohol. Why do nurses struggle with addiction? For the same reasons others do. It might be anxiety, depression, or unintentional — caused by taking a prescription medication. However, unlike everyone else, nurses and other healthcare professionals are at higher risk for substance abuse due to the nature of their jobs. Here are some reasons why.

Nurses have High-stress jobs

Nurses have a higher susceptibility to substance abuse because their jobs are stressful and intense. They work long hours, they’re on the frontlines dealing with sick patients, and many work in understaffed facilities. With Covid spreading across the world, these things are even more prevalent. They’re also expected to be happy, friendly, and compassionate 100% of the time. As a result, many nurses cope with the stress by self-medicating.

Nurses have accessibility to drugs

Nurses are often handling powerful painkillers and other prescription drugs. This accessibility increases the temptation to use. In fact, a study showed that nurses who handle drugs are more likely to have an addiction than nurses who do not.


Most nurses work 12-hour shifts or longer with little recovery time to get fully rested. After a while, the hours take a toll, causing physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. In fact, many nurses early on in their careers experience burnout. To deal with daily fatigue, nurses will abuse prescription stimulants like Ritalin.

Emotional strain

Spending as much time as they do with patients, nurses grow attached to them. While many patients recover and go home, some do not survive. Nurses turn to drugs and alcohol to help deal with feelings of loss and grief.

Bradford Helps Nurses Recover

Bradford’s Healthcare Professional Program was designed to help nurses and others in healthcare. This extended treatment program focuses on providing nurses with strategies and tools to overcome their addiction and remain successful in their careers.

Bradford has a proven track record of helping nurses recover from substance abuse. To learn more about our program or if someone you know needs help, call 888-SOBER-40 and begin the journey to recovery today.

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